Monday, June 9, 2014

Getting to Easy Street Is No Easy Trick

Reviewed by James L. Thane
Three out of five stars

In this, his second novel, Tom Kakonis brings together a disparate cast of odd, strange and curious characters who come together very uneasily in the hope of making one big score. Principal among them is Mitchell Morse, a former college football player and ex-cop who's spiraled downhill to the point where he's now employed as a security guard at a Fleets superstore in Grand Rapids, Michigan, chasing down shoplifters.

Before being fired from his last job, Mitch had met a fellow security guard named Jean Satterfield. Mitch has not had a lot of success in long-term relationships, but he recognizes that Jean is a special woman who appeals to him in ways that most other women haven't. Once at Fleets, though, he meets a cashier named Starla Hudek. Starla is no great beauty, but there's a sexual energy about her that Mitch cannot resist and before long, he's juggling the two women and hoping that neither finds out about the other.

As this happens, Starla's husband, a bruiser nicknamed "Meat", is released after eight years in Prison. After all those years, Meat and his former cellmate, Ducky, are anxious to make a big score. Starla wants nothing to do with her husband and desperately wishes that she'd finalized their divorce while she had the chance. But Meat forces his way back into her life and you don't say no to a guy that large and intimidating.

Meat soon decides that knocking over the Fleets store where Starla works could be his ticket to a life of luxury. He connects with an alleged criminal mastermind named Kasperson whose job it will be to formulate the actual plan. Kasperson, at the moment, is posing as a doctor who specializes in reversing male baldness. The conspirators soon decide that they will need an inside man to help pull off the job, and Meat orders Starla to use her considerable sexual prowess to lure Mitch into joining the team.

What follows is an hilarious and entertaining romp, filled with double and triple crosses. Three million dollars is at stake here and with a score that large, you never know who you can trust. This is a book that should appeal to a lot of crime fiction fans, especially those who enjoy the work of writers like Kakonis's fellow Detroit author, Elmore Leonard.

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