MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: Frank Sinatra in a Blender by Matthew McBride
Occasionally a debut book comes along that truly announces itself as well as its author. In my time, it’s been Scott Phillip’s The Ice Harvest, Craig Johnson with The Cold Dish, and Die A Little by Megan Abbott. Matthew McBride now tosses a fresh stick of dynamite into the crime fiction fire with Frank Sinatra In A Blender.
Nick Valentine is a down and out PI with an oxy and alcohol addiction, attitude to spare, and a little terrier named Frank Sinatra who is always relieving himself. He also has a keen investigative mind, which is why the St. Louis PD calls him to consult on a homicide that happened on a credit union robbery. Since the robbers got away with the money, Nick also enlists his mobster buddy Fat Tony, proprietor of Cowboy Roy’s strip club and chili parlor, to play both ends against the middle and get the cash, as well.
If you haven’t figured it out, this is not a serious, realistic crime novel in the George Pelecanos vain. It’s not morally sound or politically correct, either. It is flat out fun.
McBride takes those mean streets that Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer strode, that border on the real and pulp fantasy, and does it one better. His St. Louis is populated by the likes of characters like Fat Tony, a smart cop who’s background gives him the name of Amish Ron; Sid, an Irish hood who could be a refugee from a Ken Bruen novel; and Sid’s partner No Nuts. It has tough phrasing that would border on parody if it didn’t fit Nick’s voice so well with great lines that I can’t repeat here. The violence hangs in the air when it isn’t executed and it is pretty over the top. McBride turns it up to eleven and doesn’t stop.
It’s amazing he’s able to keep it consistent at this level. This is mainly done by using Valentine and his cold, decaying Midwest city to ground the tale. The story ends up being about survival and how hope can come out of it. Nick Valentine and his dog, Frank, are the epitome of it.
Copies of Frank Sinatra in a Blender are available on our shelves now and via our website, bookpeople.com.