Review of Rough Trade by Todd Robinson

Todd Robinson
August 8, 2016
Polis Books

Todd Robinson has an odd way about him.

When you begin a “Boo and Junior Gig,” the world doesn’t seem quite real. Certain dialogue is unlikely. Certain characters could never exist in our world. Yet, it works. By page 30, the surreal nature of it all has become common place. By page 100, you believe it all. It all really happened. Maybe not exactly the way you are hearing it…but you know you are hearing it the best way possible.

When reading THE HARD BOUNCE, I couldn’t figure out how the man did this. ROUGH TRADE makes it clear. The blunt and brutally honest first-person perspective…the utter disregard shown towards the fourth wall…it all adds up. These aren’t novels. They certainly aren’t journalistic documents. These are barstool tales. Boo is sitting next to you at The Cellar, the grimy, potentially diseased Boston punk venue that Boo and Junior call their home away from home. You are hearing a whiskey-soaked, heavily tattooed version of a biggest-fish yarn. And, it’s hard to deny Boo’s charm. He may not be an entirely reliable narrator, but you kinda trust him all the same.



ROUGH TRADE centers upon the death of Byron, a man Boo and Junior have been sent to frighten out of causing trouble for their co-worker and her roommate. They rough him up a little…throw him in the trunk…drop him off far away…you know, like you do sometimes. But they certainly do not kill him. When the police come hunting for Junior as the primary suspect in a murder they had no idea occurred, well – things get a little messy. The Irish Mob is involved. A strange amalgamation of James Bond, a male ballerina, and the toughest David Bowie ever causes some trouble. There are drag queens. There are NFL retirees. The story is an insane joyride on just enough mescaline.

As was THE HARD BOUNCE, ROUGH TRADE is an absolute blast. The dialogue may not always seem real, but it’s the liveliest and funniest version of Boo’s tale. Twitch may seem impossible; an albino ninja with a handgun fetish shouldn’t exist. The moral lessons are hammered home with unfortunate minimal subtlety. The good news is that, well – that’s just Boo. And, god help you, you love the goon.
Matt Morgan