Saturday, May 02, 2009
Getting Lucky by Bob Sanchez
(iUniverse / 0-595-53391-4 / 978-0-595-53391-6 / March 2009 / 196 pages / $14.95 / Amazon $13.45)
Reviewed by Lloyd Lofthouse for PODBRAM
Clay Webster loses his job after punching out a fellow police officer in front of his police chief, ninety-three schoolchildren and a reporter. That is where Getting Lucky begins. The setting centers on Lowell, Massachusetts.
It doesn’t take long to understand why Clay trashed his twenty-eight-year career in the police by punching out another officer. His youngest son is dead; his oldest son is a slum landlord, and his former wife has taken a girlfriend as her lover. After you get to know the police officer Clay knocked out, you understand why Clay did it. Office Mike Poirier is like the schoolyard bully with the big mouth that loves to torment others. Poirier deserved that punch.
Clay doesn’t know any other way to make a living after being a cop, so he becomes a private investigator. His son Jerry, the slum landlord, helps by setting up his dad in a shabby office in a run-down part of town.
I’ve read most of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series, and Clay reminds me of a toned down Spencer, a man free of family ties, a loner, and someone that lives (sort of) by a code of personal honor. Clay’s best friend is Willis Chubb, an African-American police lieutenant. Chubb is not as tough as Spenser’s Hawk, but he is likeable enough that I wanted to see more of him in the story.
Getting Lucky is hard-boiled detective fiction. Sanchez’s writing style is lean and his main character is cynical, although not as cynical as Parker’s Spenser. However, Clay is cynical enough to draw out the occasional chuckle. I found Bob Sanchez’s style a hybrid of Robert Parker and Dashiell Hammett.
The story starts fast when the lovely Bonita Esquivez walks into Clay’s office and wants to hire him to find her missing husband, Lucky Esquivez, which explains the title. On the other hand, Bonita is not what she seems. Clay soon discovers that Lucky and Bonita may own an adult sex shop that is embroiled in controversy. Bonita claims she is only into making jewelry. Clay finds this difficult to believe. As the story progresses and we learn more about Lucky Esquivez, we begin to wonder why Bonita would want this guy back. Among the cast of characters, there’s a Senator Swinburne, and his name fits. Another character, Choop, a Cambodian teenager, sees a body in the local canal that may be Lucky Esquivez, but, for some reason, Choop is afraid to talk and with good reason. Soon, someone shoots Choop for what he knows, and he lands in the hospital in critical condition.
Getting Lucky has a touch of film noir to it emphasizing moral ambiguity and sexual motivation. When Bonita spends thousands decorating Clay’s office with new furniture and wall-to-wall carpet, Clay doesn’t turn her down. At this point, you may wonder why Bonita is looking for her husband if she is seducing the man she hired to find him. Is there an ulterior motive at work? To find out, you’ll have to read the novel. The fact that Clay may be in love with Chantal Ladoute, an old friend and ex-nun, doesn’t stop him from accepting the sexual favors Bonita offers, either, but it does stir up a pot of confusion and guilt. Like the old saying goes, “men are easy” but seldom forgiven.
I found Getting Lucky fun to read. I found a few slips in sentence structure and grammar but not enough to bother me. There’s a good chance that readers who enjoy Robert Parker mysteries will enjoy this one too.
See Also: Bob Sanchez' Website
Reviews of When Pigs Fly