Monday, August 16, 2010

AN ORDINARY DECENT CRIMINAL - Michael Van Rooy

FIRST LINE: "I had a gun I didn't want to use."

Montgomery Haaviko, a.k.a. Sam Parker, is a recovering drug addict and a former thief. He has moved into a home in Winnipeg with his wife, his infant son, their dog and their mouse. Monty/Sam has vowed to his wife that he will lead a straight life, get a regular job, settle down. However, when Monty catches a band of thieves in the act of robbing his home and the confrontation ends with Monty killing them, he finds this vow a little harder to keep than he thought. The thieves are connected to a small time crime boss and the man who arrests Monty is a dirty cop.  Both want to either kill Monty or run him out of town. But Monty is determined to stay in Winnipeg and live the life he planned. Now he just has to figure out how he's going to manage it.

AN ORDINARY DECENT CRIMINAL had an interesting effect on me. When I first started it, I wasn't so sure this was going to be for me. By page ten I was hooked for the long haul. I wanted to know exactly where Michael Van Rooy was going with this plot. And by the middle of the book I realized I was thinking about it when I wasn't reading and anxiously waiting to get back to it. As I turned the last page I was devastated. I did not want the end to come and found myself hoping there would be more Monty Haaviko from Van Rooy in the future. I can officially be counted in the Monty Haaviko cheering section now.

AN ORDINARY DECENT CRIMINAL is fresh and different. Monty is a fascinating character and his wife, Claire, compliments him perfectly. Their relationship enhances the plot and provides humor. I think there was a great deal of humor that ended up lost on me, but Van Rooy still had plenty up his sleeve for me to appreciate.

I attribute a lot of the "interesting effect" this book had on me to the details. They may seem insignificant, but added up, they play a great role in this caper: observations of his son Fred; actions of his dog Renfield; references to crime movies, books and writers; and interaction with his friend Frank. I learned a lot about thieving, booby traps, and weapons.

AN ORDINARY DECENT CRIMINAL is simply a fun read. I look forward to more from Michael Van Rooy. As a side note in a little research I did, Michael Van Rooy actually has three books in this series and fourth due in 2012. AN ORDINARY DECENT CRIMINAL is the first in the series, just published in the U.S. this year but originally published in 2005. Very happy to hear there will be more Monty!

AN ORDINARY DECENT CRIMINAL is available now in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0-312-60628-2) from St. Martin's Minotaur.

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7 comments:

Mulholland Books (Minnie) August 16, 2010 at 6:34 PM  

Jen, this novel sounds great. I've heard that it has gotten great reviews from THE NATIONAL POST and other places, too. Also, it strangely reminds me of A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE--have you seen it?

Also, thanks so much for posting on the Mulholland Books website. So glad that you liked Nelson DeMille's post about his childhood obsession which helped him write his novel. There are so many more guest posts to come, so please keep dropping by!

Naomi Johnson August 16, 2010 at 10:50 PM  

I wonder, what makes you think much of the humor was lost on you? Was it cultural differences or idioms that you didn't recognize, or something else?

Jen Forbus August 17, 2010 at 6:26 AM  

I attribute it to the KIND of humor. It was lost on me simply because I didn't think it was all that funny, but I know from popular movies and whatnot that others find it absolutely hilarious. But I've had the opposite happen too. I've found something very funny and someone will look at me and go, "really?" So, it's all personal taste, I guess.

kitchen tables August 18, 2010 at 5:03 AM  

When I first read one of Michael Van Rooy books. I was so surprised. It is so fascinating and I had a really great time reading it. I know that this new book is as good as the other book that he wrote.

Rachel December 5, 2010 at 1:55 PM  

I was just emailing Michael and I have this ARC sitting around and offered to pass it along to him with another book being mailed. I wasn't sure if he'd heard of it so I was googling to get a link to the publisher and you were the 3rd google hit! I guess I should forget the publisher and just link to your blog. :)

I got this book for review a couple months ago and found that I had many of the same comments as you. However, many of those extra details started to feel like a criminal's handbook after a while. So while I liked them, there were times when I was taken out of the story because I felt like I was getting directions rather than just direction in the plot. Still, though, great read and I would be also like to read more Van Rooy.

Rachel December 5, 2010 at 1:58 PM  

I was just emailing Michael because I have this ARC sitting around and wanted to know if he'd like it with another book to be mailed. I wanted to link to the publisher info in case he hasn't heard of it and you were the 3rd google hit. I guess I should forget the publisher and just link to your blog! :)

I got this book for review a couple months ago and had many of the same comments. However, some of those extra details started to feel like a criminal's handbook after a while. So while I liked it there were times it felt like I was getting directions rather than just direction in the plot. But still a great read and I look forward to more Van Rooy. (I also loved the ending!)

Amandarin orange March 10, 2011 at 1:59 PM  

It makes me smile to see that people loved my uncles work so much.

thanks for the encouraging words.

Too bad we won't get to see where Monty goes :(

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