Sunday, January 8, 2017

George Weir, Last Call: A Bill Travis Mystery

George Weir, Last Call: A Bill Travis Mystery
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 29, 2012)
ISBN-13: 978-1467917100

Bill Travis is an “investment advisor”—he helps people with too much cash or too little cash (but with sufficient resources) deal with their problems. Julie Simmons’ problem is a little different—she has $300, no other resources.  But she does know where $2 million, in cash. Has been hidden.  The cash belongs to Archie Carpin, the remaining member of a family of Texas bootleggers (among other shady activities, dating back to the 1920s.  Travis’s hormones, rather than his better judgment, take over, and he agrees to help her (a) recover the money and (b) avoid the consequences which means (c) somehow neutralizing Carpin and his minions. 

This is the sort of book I can’t read a steady diet of.  The violence level is too high for me, and the ability of our protagonist to avoid the legal consequences of his actions requires me to suspend a bit too much disbelief.  (I have similar issues with, for example, Robert Parker’s Spenser books, with Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole/Joe Pike books, with Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar/Win Horne books, with John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee books, and more.)  So I read them sparingly.

Weir never quite makes clear how Travis deals with his (normal) clients’ issues, but I at least presume that some of what he does nears the line between aggressive asset management and, ah, fraud.   And we don’t, in the end, find out how the $2 million is disposed of.  We do, on the other hand, get a fairly fast-paced trip which takes us from Austin to rural northern Texas, with help from Travis’s friend Hank and Hank’s friend Duke, with Hank’s dog Dingo also making an important contribution.  We also meet Ms. Coleeta and her son Lawrence (a barbecue legend), and Keesha, the young girl whose drug-addicted mother does not make it to the finish line.  In fact, by the end, there’s enough pain to make everyone think twice about getting out of bed the next morning.

But Travis—our narrator as well as our protagonist—is a good guide through the events, and Weir makes Texas, present and past come alive.  I will read more of the books in the series, because this one is, of its type, excellent.  But not just yet.

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