Kaye George gets November and this Monday off with another thriller review….
Odd Jobs by Ben Lieberman
Let’s start off by saying this thriller’s cover blurbs are by James Patterson and Donald Trump. That sets the bar high, but Lieberman attains it.
Kevin Davenport narrates the story in present tense, starting with his summer job at Kosher World Meat Factory. It isn’t an ideal job, working with blood and bones and smelly flesh, but it pays well. He got the job through his association with Jimmy Balducci, a guy with connections. Kevin, a college student, doesn’t know where he belongs, but knows it’s not in a meat factory. This is just a summer job for him. Neither does he quite fit into the privileged stratum of his college classmates. although he used to. That was before a hit and run driver killed his father, a dedicated DA, and his little sister when he was ten. The accident took away his way of life until he obtained a basketball scholarship to a posh school--where he didn’t quite fit in either.
When Kevin shows up for work hung over, he’s given an even more miserable work detail than hauling carcasses: The Tongue Room. He’s treated worse and worse at the factory until he volunteers to represent the company in a boxing match to redeem himself. He does for awhile. But an employee turns up dead; mysterious things are happening in the factory; Kevin doesn’t know who to trust and who’s out to get him; and his seamy odd jobs get odder and more complicated. Sev, who runs Kosher World, seems to have it in for Kevin, Balducci’s darling. Even so, Kevin admires the way Sev makes the factory hum. He doesn’t know who to trust, maybe no one, but knows he has to fight to remain alive in this world. Whether he belongs to it or not.
This is a thrilling, chilling tale filled with underworld characters, smoothly told. Look for more from Lieberman, maybe for more of Kevin, too.
Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of A Patchwork of Stories for Suspense Magazine