Monday, June 13, 2022

Rock of Ages by Timothy Hallinan

First Line: The drum solo had gone on so long that it seemed to be taking place in geological time, and there was no indication that it was nearing an end.
Irwin Dressler, Hollywood's most dangerous geriatric mobster, has a problem. Four of his associates have put together a national tour of once-popular rock bands they own a piece of: concerts by those who were big shots in the 1960s and 1970s who are hoping for one last gasp of glory on this nostalgia tour. 
Dressler's problem? Those four associates of his are using the tour as a front to steal his money. This is something Dressler simply cannot allow. Who can he turn to? Junior Bender, Los Angeles burglar and off-the-books detective to the felonious, of course.
The timing couldn't be worse for Junior. He'll be spending the weekend with his teenage daughter, Rina, who's showing way too much interest in how Junior makes his living. Can Junior recover Dressler's money, prevent a murder, talk his daughter out of pursuing a life of crime, and somehow survive all that bad music?
One thing's for sure-- it's going to be an interesting weekend.
As a fan of cat burglars from Cary Grant's To Catch a Thief to Robert Wagner's It Takes a Thief, I've been a fan of the irreverent, irrepressible Junior Bender from book one (Crashed). In this latest installment, Rock of Ages puts readers right in the middle of a nostalgia rock and roll tour, complete with falling props, Super Trooper lighting, old groupies, and a very inquisitive teenage girl. The names of the bands are almost worth the price of admission alone, and this behind-the-scenes look at rock and roll is equal parts illuminating and hilarious. "The bands hated each other, some of them were rusty, some needed cue cards for their lyrics, and three guys had shown up in wheelchairs." Junior must navigate all this as well as slashed tires, threatening notes, inflated egos, and people willing to kill for a money-and-power grab.
I really enjoyed the time spent with Junior's daughter, Rina. She's one sharp cookie who has a mind (and a mouth) very similar to her father's. Junior's going to be sweating bullets over Rina in a year or two, mark my words. But Rock of Ages isn't just the Junior and Rina Show. Other characters shine as only Hallinan can make them. Lavender the old groupie. Cappy the manager who keeps everything running. Debbie, whom Junior calls when he needs backup. Irwin Dressler, the LA mobster of legend. I always love Hallinan's casts of characters.
As I said before, I've enjoyed this series from the very first book. I will follow Junior Bender wherever he leads me because I know I'm going to enjoy myself with a first-rate plot and an excellent cast of characters, and guess what? I always learn something, too. The history of Los Angeles, the movie industry, rock and roll... it's all up for grabs when Tim Hallinan shares an adventure with my favorite burglar. I'm already looking forward to the next one. Hurry up, Junior!   

Rock of Ages by Timothy Hallinan
eISBN: 9781641292191
Soho Press © 2022
eBook, 336 pages
Private Investigator, #8 Junior Bender mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley


  1. If you ask me, Cathy, you can't go far wrong with Hallinan novel, and that includes his Junior Bender series. And I give Hallinan credit here, because the Bender series is a different series from his Poke Rafferty novels. It's not easy for an author to create two quite different series like that.

    1. No, it's certainly not easy, but this very talented man does a wonderful job of doing just that.

  2. The whole band scene in this one sounds hilarious!

    1. Those scenes are great, and I absolutely love the band names!


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