I finished reading WHIPLASH RIVER by Lou Berney yesterday evening. WHIPLASH is a sequel to Berney's first crime novel, GUTSHOT STRAIGHT, which I haven't read yet but certainly plan to.
WHIPLASH continues the adventures of Shake Bouchon, a getaway driver who has done time in prison and retired from the criminal life in Belize where he owns a beachfront restaurant. Trouble is, he owes money to the local drug kingpin, Baby Jesus. Shake doesn't have the cash to pay his debts but that soon becomes the least of his troubles when a masked gunman comes into the restaurant one night and shoots the place up in an attempt to kill an older man dining there.
Before you know it, Shake's restaurant is blown up and Shake and Quinn, the mysterious older man (who has a quite colorful and checkered past), are on the run from Baby Jesus, a hit team comprised of two Bonnie and Clyde wannabes, a female FBI agent and other shadowy and deadly forces.
Shake and Quinn escape and while on the run, Quinn convinces Shake to get involved in an elaborate heist in Cairo involving a priceless historical document (the original draft of a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt). To effectively stage the con, they recruit Gina, Shake's ex-girlfriend who has also retired from a life of crime, if only temporarily.
Shake, Quinn and Gina travel to Cairo where they put an ingenious confidence game into action. Their pursuers also follow them to Egypt and the plot takes many unexpected twists and turns before the surprise ending which sets things up nicely for more adventures with this trio.
Author Berney channels the great Elmore Leonard in this fast-paced and funny crime novel. The dialogue is sharp, the characters quirky and the con well planned and executed. This is a good one and Berney is an author to watch. Highly recommended.