by Lou Berney
Full disclosure: I don't love crime stories. I know, I know. It's crazy. I'm Italian and I watch so much Law and Order. I must like crime, right?
Man, I try, but I think I just like the forensics and serial killers.
So, Gutshot Straight is about a guy, Shake, who's pretty good at making people think he both knows more and is willing to do more than he actually is. He gets out of jail and, roughly sixteen hours later, is back doing the very thing that got him locked up for fifteen months. Of course, his boss, the beautiful, grey-eyed, Armenian Lexxie can be quite convincing. Plus the money. Mostly the money. He wants to open up a restaurant.
It's an easy job. Drive a car from his home in LA to Vegas then take a plane home. Of course, this is only chapter two, so you've gotta know it doesn't go smooth. It never goes smooth.
Berney jumps through the POV of basically every character that steps on the stage. He's brilliant at making each character seem individual. I could tell instantly when there was a switch. Which is good, because sometime in the last half of the book they suddenly start happening mid-chapter instead of just at the breaks.
And sometimes, the path gets a bit twisty. Like when we duck into the head of the poor sap who's wallet has been stolen by Gina. Why are we following him? Who knows. His story, while compelling, has almost no bearing on the overall plot. Sure, he makes an appearance at the end to sort of save the day, but, even having followed him, he's almost unrecognizable when he reappears.
The story is sort of a mystery, so I'm doing my best to not give away too much. The problem is that it's a bit of tease with the mystery and tangled web of lies. It's like reading Scooby Doo. You think you can figure out what's happening, but Berney saves the real bits of info, the ones that would help you put it together, all for himself. The one character that has that knowledge is the one character who's POV we never visit.
The book is fun to read, but it's a bit like a One Direction song. Fun, jaunty, and easy to get through. Ultimately, though, there's not much there. In the end, no one's learned anything, no one's changed by their experiences. Being kind of a picky bitch, I'm only giving it 2/5. What do I know though? It was nominated for a Barry Award.