Todd Robinson’s THE HARD BOUNCE
Every so often, you stumble onto something that’s just for you. A coupon for your favorite steakhouse. The last bottle of your favorite beer at the party. The missing issue from your favorite issue of Captain America in the back issue box of the used bookstore. Or even the team card from the 2004 Red Sox team that you find at some dope’s garage sale.
Reading Todd Robinson’s THE HARD BOUNCE was like that for me. If Mr. Robinson (whom I’ve not had the pleasure) had called me up one night and said, “So, Malmon. I understand you like a mystery with a good amount of ass kicking. And witty, if increasingly ribald back-and-forth dialog. And what’s that? Boston is your favorite city? Ok. Let’s set the story there. And toss in a little Red Sox vs. Yankees talk for background flavor? Check.”
But to say that a book is winner just because the ingredients are there just isn’t so. They’ve got to be mixed the right way. Robinson creates a story based around two heroes: Boo and Junior. Boo and Junior are a rough and tumble duo that work security at a Boston nightclub called The Cellar. These two are a matched set. Left shoe, right shoe. Beer and shot. Left jab and right cross. Point being, since they first joined forces at Saint Gabriel’s Home for Boys, it’s been Boo and Junior against the world. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.
We’ve got our City. We’ve now met our unlikely heroes. And now let’s stir in an explosive dash of teenaged Cassandra. Cassandra has gone missing, last seen in the company of a very bad man. Add in the fact that Cassie reminds Boo of his very long-lost sister, and you’ve just preheated the oven of our story to one thousand degrees.
And oh yeah, one more thing. Boo and Junior have no idea how to “play detective.” All they know is Cassie’s dad is a big-time big wig in Boston government. And he’s tossing more money at them for finding his daughter than our boys have ever seen. So with dollar signs in Junior’s eyes, and images of his lost sister in Boo’s, off they go stumbling through Boston’s underbelly. Hitting people. Breaking things. Pissing off everybody else. And through it all, tossing off the loudest, crudest, downright funniest best friend banter this side of Joe R. Lansdale’s “Hap and Lenard.” Yeah, I said it. Robinson writes the banter that well.
So what happens to my poorly constructed pulp “cooking” metaphor? Well, since Todd Robinson is our short-order cook tonight, it goes down just fine. And because this is now our favorite diner, you’re damn right I’ll be pulling up to the counter again and again.