MysteryPeople Pick of the Month for February: The Hard Bounce by Todd Robinson
Todd Robinson is one of those writers who has been in the trenches for some time. He’s written short work for over ten years and founded the webzine Thuglit, which gave notice to authors like Frank Bill and Sophie Littlefield. Finally, Todd gets a deserved spotlight for his debut novel, The Hard Bounce.
Our two heroes are Boo and Junior. Combined, they make up 470 lbs (mostly Boo) and over $10,000 in tattoos (mostly Junior’s). Their friendship started in a state home and continues at The Cellar, a Boston nightclub where they work as bouncers. Robinson, who has spent a large part of his life in the bar business, brings this professional culture to life.
The two are asked to find a missing girl, Cassie. Skeptical to take the job since they aren’t detectives, their need for cash makes them accept. The girl’s trail leads them into a world of runaways, the sex trade, snuff films, and a lot of punching. If things weren’t dangerous enough, they learn the person who actually hired them is Cassie’s father, a mob boss with a bad reputation.
Like Andrew Vachss, Todd depicts a community built on the fringes of society. Boo, Junior, and their tech buddy, Ollie, are all state raised with a friendship that has been bonded by hard knocks. It’s a tight group of misfits and a selective one. When an outsider walks in who Boo feels for, it threatens the pack.
Robinson’s voice acts as fuel for this tale. You can hear the Boston accent as Boo narrates. He also uses a lot of hard boiled humor that tempers some of the dark deeds our heroes face. The tone is like a New England version of Joe Lansdale’s Hap & Leonard novels, with a much more brutal Hap.
The Hard Bounce delivers on what it promises. We get all the hard boiled tropes with a fresh take. Robinson makes Boo and Junior two guys you care about even though you might step out of their way if you saw them in real life. I hope they travel down more mean streets and dark alleys in books to come.