A hero whose favourite weapon is a hammer clearly has issues. Lots of them.
Novelist, essayist, and creator of the beloved HBO series "Bored to Death," Jonathan Ames is celebrated not only for his comic sensibilities and devotion to the absurd but for his lurid attraction to inner demons. In this shocking and suspenseful new novella, the author goes darker than noir, with an ass-kicking and psychologically tormented guardian angel who rescues others but refuses to save himself.
A former Marine and ex–FBI agent, Joe has seen one too many crime scenes and known too much trauma, and not just in his professional life. Solitary and haunted, he prefers to be invisible. He doesn't allow himself friends or lovers and makes a living rescuing young girls from the deadly clutches of the sex trade. But when a high-ranking New York politician hires him to extricate his teenage daughter from a Manhattan brothel, Joe uncovers a web of corruption that even he may not be able to unravel. When the men on his trail take the only person left in the world who matters to him, he forsakes his pledge to do no harm. If anyone can kill his way to the truth, it's Joe.
"You Were Never Really Here" is a tribute to Raymond Chandler and to Donald Westlake and his Parker series, and it testifies to Ames's versatility and capacity to entertain in any medium or genre. A character for the ages, Joe shows us, with every bent cop, junkie, and pimp he confronts, that it's hard to be an angel in a fallen world.
PRAISE FOR “YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE”
“Like most people, I like my Jonathan Ames LONG, but it's amazing what he can do in 18,000 words, too. This piece would make Raymond Chandler happy.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of “Super Sad True Love Story”
"Ames' single is a good choice for lovers of Michael Connelly, Lee Child or Vince Flynn who are interested in character-driven thrillers." —Courtney Crowder, Chicago Tribune
Another short book this time, though in fairness it is over 50 pages so I am stretching myself here!
It’s another new author for me and someone who would have remained unknown to me had it not popped up in my recommendations from Amazon. Initially intrigued by the cover – I always find masks a bit freaky if I’m honest, especially animal-type ones in films, I clicked on the book and from the blurb above decided this was definitely up my street.
You can’t beat a bit of ass-kicking and psychological torment when the reading mood calls for it.
Dark, brooding, moody, powerful, violent, black, grim and sad – when we understand what Joe endured growing up. We discover Joe’s capabilities and indomitable will during the course of this short novella. He’s a loner, allowing no- one into his life. He lives with his mother, but they don’t communicate. We all know why.
Joe’s takes on a job rescuing a politician’s daughter, but things spiral out of control when the politician has a change of heart. When Joe’s mother and contacts and the only people Joe has a connection to – albeit with an emotional distance - become targets; Joe does what he does best with a frightening ruthlessness and capability.
It’s quite interesting to consider what latitude we give the “good guys” to take down the “bad fellas” – are their actions excused because of the end result that’s delivered? An interesting question to consider in these difficult times.
I absolutely loved this one.
I did go and look up Ames' other books and this piece almost seems out of context with his other work. I have ordered a copy of I Pass Like Night though - short, cheap and off-beat.
5 from 5
Acquired recently on Amazon for Kindle.