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Runaway Man by David Handler
Cover Artist: Rob Wood
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250011626
Date: 20 August 2013 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

The short, boyish Benji Golden is a most unlikely Manhattan PI. He is hired by a snobbish, uptown lawyer, Peter Seymour, to locate a missing Canterbury College student, Bruce Weiner. Inside a secluded cabin at Candlewood Lakes, Benji finds Bruce only minutes after a hired assassin has shot him dead.

Bruce's murder, Benji later learns, is connected to the suspicious suicide of a mentally disturbed socialite, Kathleen Kidd, whose brother, Bobby the K, is campaigning for the governorship of New York City. Benji soon finds himself neck deep in scandalous secrets; wealthy, obnoxious bluebloods; and crooked lawyers and politicians.

David Handler's unique mystery, Runaway Man, is short, fast-paced, funny, and violent. These are adjectives that can also be used to describe its hero, Benjamin Golden. His mom affectionately calls him "Bunny". He has a very unusual family. His father, Meyer Golden, was an extremely beloved and respected New York City detective who married Abby, a former lap dancer. Meyer is deceased and Abby runs the family business, Golden Legal Services. Rita, the office manager, is also a former lap dancer; she is waiting patiently for her professional basketball player husband, Clarence, to be paroled from Sing Sing.

Benji asks his best friend and mentor, Detective Lieutenant Larry "Legs" Diamond, to help him solve the crimes. In this novel, all the men carry big guns and all the women have large breasts--typical noir.

Another woman with big breasts is the oversexed kindergarten teacher, Sonya Posner. She also has a big crush on Benji. They have a romantic encounter. The next morning, Legs Diamond is driving Benji to an interview with Eleanor Saltonstall Kidd when he asks:

"Your voice sounds deeper today. Did you get laid last night?"

This is one example of the crude humor that permeates Runaway Man. The characters, especially the minor ones, are often hilarious. One of the tenants in Abby Golden's apartment/office building, which she owns, is the always whining, always complaining Mrs. Felcher, who looks like Albert Einstein in drag.

With Runaway Man, best-selling author David Handler gives his fans a must-read mystery that is on a par with his highly successful Mitch Berger and Des Mitry series (The Blood Red Indian Summer, The Snow White Christmas Cookie and the soon-to-be-released The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb). It is an enticing novel with enough violent deaths and shocks to keep my eyes glued to its pages. The raunchy humor and tender romance were big bonuses.

At last, David Handler has gone out on the limb to create a heroic PI who is modeled after us little guys. Benji "Bunny" Golden is not the six-foot, muscle-bound bruiser who is often the stereotypical investigator found in many crime novels. I definitely hope to read more about his future investigations.

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