Not For Hire
by G.J. Prager
LastCall Press

"I regretted not providing them with a proper burial, but they would have left me to rot as well. There are no winners in this world—only survivors."

Working in a well-worn genre has its pluses and minuses. One plus is a loyal audience for stories told a certain way. One minus is all those stories told the same way. An author has to be good to hold his own. Prager is and does. In his novel, a shopworn protagonist gets himself involved in dirty business for the typical reason: money. Surprisingly, the down-and-out protagonist is not only cynical when he wants to be and sinister when he needs to be, but he's also self-aware, insightful, and unashamed to admit that he's scared when he should be.

The requisitely intricate plot deals with revenge, murder for hire, blackmail, terrorism, insurrection, and more. However, as engaging as the plot is, it takes the second seat to the cadre of interesting characters on display. There's the born-too-late hippie who runs a bed and breakfast but succumbs to love over lust at her peril. There's the cigar-smoking colonel whose smoke rings frame visions of political conquest. There are meth-freaks, embezzlers, thugs both obvious and disguised, and, of course, a bevy of beautiful babes. But outshining them all is Klayman, the hard-drinking, wisecracking, Jewish gem of an antihero.

Author Prager imbues Klayman with pitch-perfect sarcasm. His first-person narrative is laced with metaphors and similes that tumble as melodiously as a Lionel Hampton solo. He dispatches bad guys and beds broads with the best of classic gumshoes of yore, yet still manages to avoid outright imitation. Witty, ironic, smart, and sassy, this is a crime thriller from an author that knows how to make guilty pleasures truly pleasurable.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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