Once a Crooked Man by David McCallum

Once a Crooked Man by David McCallum
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Snapdragon

From the beloved actor known for his roles on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and NCIS comes a quirky crime novel featuring a well-intentioned young actor, a trio of suave crooks, and a series of untimely coincidences.

Readers looking forward to David McCallum’s first Book Release, Once a Crooked Man are counting the days until its January release,  and if they’ve been hoping it will be ‘as advertised’ they surely will not be disappointed.

McCallum (Ducky of NCIS fame, among others) has played the role of some quirky characters in his career and Once a Crooked Man – billed as a quirky mystery – is all that and more.  A quirky main character starts us off. Harry Murphy, aspiring actor, happens to overhear plans for the crime.

Other ‘quirky’ characters follow, like Carter A. From the get-go, we readers have no idea what’s up with him, but its not good; it should be good given his situation, but its not looking good at all.

And here, its worth noting that more than the characters are quirky. McCallum jumps from one to the next, easily switching characters yet maintaining, even increasing, reader curiosity. Stylistically, its not unheard of, but it was not this reader’s favorite.

We start to run into the bad guys. Sal, Max and Enzo. Max looking to retire…he’s looking for that final score to ‘set up’ retirement. He almost gains reader sympathy, but among these characters so much (unexpected? unneeded?) bad language litters the text, its hard to see these guys as anything but caricatures. It is funny but also distracting; my one quibble with the entire story.

In Once a Crooked Man all the characters are at a turning point, and the opening pages flip from character to character. It could be annoying but its intriguing…in a kind of annoying way. But, we want to know and there it is: Author McCallum has us, we keep reading, keep wanting more.

Brilliant funny and wonderful. Even the dedication is quirky. A risk to read but utterly satisfactory. I have to give this one 5 stars, as I think those looking for a fresh original take on mystery/crime will love it.

Cheers to Dr. Ducky! from Snapdragon: a fan.

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