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Rob Thy Neighbor (Charlie Henry) by David Thurlo
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250078896
Date: 16 August 2016 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Charlie Henry and Gordon Sweeney are owners of Albuquerque's FOB Pawn. One Sunday afternoon, they are enjoying a cookout on the back patio of the home of their friends, Nancy Medina and Gina Sinclair. Screams are heard coming from the house next door. Upon investigating, they discover that the neighbors, Sam and Margaret Randal, are being terrorized by three men who are masked and armed. They foil the men's attempts to kidnap Sam, the wealthy owner of a successful construction company, Firm Foundation. The kidnappers are persistent. The body count rises as they continue trying to kidnap Sam and kill Charlie who grows closer to identifying the kidnappers.

David Thurlo's latest Charlie Henry mystery, Rob Thy Neighbor (following Grave Consequences and The Pawnbroker), is a shoot-'em-up thriller with a tremendous amount of gun action, martial arts and pretty women. It reminds me of those action thrillers from the seventies and eighties. The Legend of Billy Jack is foremost in my mind; Billy Jack was a half-Indian/half-white ex-Green Beret who employed martial arts to combat small-town hicks terrorizing a private school for wayward teens. Charlie and Gordon are former army special ops who, along with Nancy (a police sergeant) and Gina (a trial lawyer), are well versed in martial arts. They also come to the aid of those less fortunate. Charlie was raised on a Navajo Indian reservation while Gordon struggled to survive in the Denver slums.

Who is trying to kidnap Sam Randal and why? This is the mystery that is overshadowed by the violence, which often seems relentless. Charlie is always narrowly escaping ambushes and booby traps. He endures a lot of pain and suffering. The kidnappers are professionals. They are tracked to a martial arts studio, Butkikin Dojo, where Charlie and Gordon perform some hand-to-hand combat with its instructors. Students at the studio are loyal to the instructors and also hassle Charlie and Gordon, producing more tense moments. The identity of the thug behind the kidnapping and murder attempts is eventually revealed in the last sixty pages; unfortunately, Charlie and company can't be given credit for this revelation.

Gun enthusiasts will enjoy Rob Thy Neighbor. Thurlo has convinced me that he is knowledgeable about weapons and martial arts. He is also well versed in police procedures. Furthermore, his characters are rather diverse and realistically drawn. For example, one of the villains, Frank Geiger, is someone I really grew to hate; he is the ultimate in poor white trailer trash. He has railroaded his own son, Ray, into a life of crime. My only complaint is that Charlie and Gordon have a lot of energy and vigor for men their age; they are almost like superheroes. I need to start taking Centrum Silver and doubling my daily dosage of Osteo Bi-Flex if I am ever going to compete with them.

Rob Thy Neighbor contains a few shocks; however, I saw them a mile away. Though it isn't a mind-numbing, mind-boggling whodunit, it does have enough action to keep the reader thoroughly engaged from cover to cover. It ends on a relatively high note that is a nice commentary on the power of true love.

After having read Rob Thy Neighbor, I will be looking at my neighbors in a different light. You never know what secrets they are hiding--secrets that may endanger your own life if you discover them. If it had been me who heard their neighbors screaming, I would have called the police and been done with it. Not so with Charlie and Gordon who love to dash into the fray with guns blazing. Thanks to excellent writers like David Thurlo, the Wild Wild West is still alive.

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