Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rules of Laughter

Humor is hard, especially in crime fiction. J.A. Konrath pulls it off regularly, as does Joe Lansdale. But some of the former masters still mentioned in blurbs (Leonard, Hiaasen & Co.) have faltered of late, so it’s a pleasure to welcome newcomer Troy Cook to the Comedy Crime Club.

47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers starts off with a jolly premise – a 22-year-old woman raised by her father to take over the family heist business and be a veritable Joan Dillinger – then ups the ante and moves on to truly inventive excitement and hilarity.

The trouble is that Tara Evans’ daddy, Wyatt, is going nuts – jeopardizing both of their futures by breaking all the survival lessons he has passed on with such care. Tara’s new boyfriend, Max, a sheriff's son who definitely has grander plans than a career in law enforcement, also adds an element of comic danger.

Cook, a former filmmaker with a great respect for words, knows just how many to use to bring to life a sunburned Arizona landscape and the slightly screwy, often touching, almost constantly amusing people who live in it.