The One Minute Assassin: A Novel
By Troy Cook
Capital Crimes Press
Large Trade Paperback
List Price $14.95
Good help is hard to find and that is certainly true in this case. Barry and Nails have a very simple task. They are to eliminate one by one the strongest competition in the latest chaotic governor's race in California. It would be nice if they made the deaths look like accidents. And maybe the first one does as people do, on occasion, fall out of windows.
Though they rarely happen to be so lucky as to face plant into their own star on the sidewalk of the Walk of Fame. Still, it could happen.
Things begin to go seriously haywire for Barry and Nails when they target Eleanor, the sister of John Black. John Black, part of a powerful political family and yet has zero interest in politics, an affinity for telling others not only what to do but also how to do it, and an independent streak that rubs many the wrong way including his own mother affectionately named "The Barracuda." Once he was a private investigator and now what he does is a bit shadowy but clearly results oriented. He, along with his Australian by birth partner and mentor, Harry are used to working cases and achieving justice in unconventional ways. The attempted hit on his sister which puts her near death in the hospital just days before Election Day where she probably would win makes it clear to him that he has to deal with the twin bedfellows of crime and politics. Is there any surprise that the Russian Mafia is also involved?
In what could easily be the start of an entertaining new series, author Troy Cook has surpassed his debut novel "47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers." That novel was a funny twisted read and there remains no doubt why it was highly successful and won numerous awards.
It was good. If you haven't read it—you should. Immediately.
The same is true here in a novel that is completely different and at the same time has so much in common with the first book. Once again, the killers are dysfunction at best. Nails, somewhere around 400 pounds with very bad knees, is an unwitting human guinea pig for a pharmaceutical company and a severe eye twitch when he becomes agitated. All involved soon learn to watch for the eye twitch.
Then, there is Barry, a skinny white man who constantly argues that there should be a union for killers. If they could become unionized they could make sure to get decent pay and benefits.
With these two at work, it is no wonder why John Black constantly wonders what is going on as there really doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason to their actions. He would also like to know how Harry can not only change the ring tone on John's cell phone to anything he wants leading to frequent embarrassment, but how he does it?
While not nearly as funny as the first novel, author Troy Cook routinely uses humor as a weapon. A weapon often aimed at politics and politicians and a weapon that always hits its target. Which is much better than a certain rapper in the story who just can't live up to his own myth.
The result is a highly entertaining read that is part mystery, part comedy, and all good from start to finish. It features unique characters, often witty dialogue, and plenty of action that is never slowed down by the numerous observations of the American political system and California politics. The result is a very good read well worth your time.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2007