RARA-AVIS: Shotgun Alley

From: Craig Larson ( CLarson@nhcc.edu)
Date: 29 Nov 2004

Over the weekend, I read Andrew Klavan's second Weiss and Bishop novel, Shotgun Alley, and really enjoyed it, though in retrospect, the book is chock-full of cliches: the tough guy hero who infiltrates a biker gang and proves himself to be just as virile as the rest and a femme fatale right out of film noir. But Klavan writes with such power and assuredness, that the whole thing comes to vivid life and it moves.

Jim Bishop is charged with bringing back the daughter of a rich man who is planning a senate run. In an act of rebellion, she's joined a biker gang made up of misfits and castoffs too crazy to be accepted in the traditional gangs (at one point, a character says
"What does a biker have to do to earn the nickname Mad Dog?"). They're the Outriders and they're not above killing a few innocent bystanders who might get in the way of their smash and grab thefts.

Back at the office, Weiss has been hired by a feminist professor to track down the person responsible for a string of sexually-harassing emails. The only problem is she's been receiving them for over nine months--it turns out she's fallen in love with the sender and wants help tracking him down. The process of finding out who the sender is allows Weiss some time to reflect on his unrequited love for his fantasy woman from the previous novel. He knows that there's an unstoppable killer out there, just waiting to follow him should he try to find this woman.

There's a great scene where the unnamed "I" narrator
(if we believe the book's foreword, this is Klavan himself) meets a woman who seems to be his perfect match and they have a wonderful conversation which ends with her giving him her phone number and eliciting a promise for him to call. Very soon after, he drifts into an all-consuming sexual relationship with Weiss' female operative Sissy, and forgets all about Emma McNair, his perfect woman. Very sad, really.

We learn more about the backstory of the relationship between Bishop and Weiss and how they started working together. It all builds to a raid on a warehouse during a dark and stormy night, with police and FBI agents, tipped off by Bishop, waiting to capture the gang.

I really had a great time with this book and it was literally a page-turner that wouldn't let me go. There were several times that I was about to put the book aside and do something else, but I read just one more sentence and that was enough to draw me into the next chapter and then the next. I liked Dynamite Road a lot, but Shotgun Alley is even better.

Craig Larson Minneapolis, MN

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 29 Nov 2004 EST