Review: Duke City Desperado by Max Austin

duke city desperado by max austinFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: mystery/thriller
Series: Duke City #3
Length: 174 pages
Publisher: Random House Alibi
Date Released: June 9, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Under a sky full of stars, Dylan James lies sleeping on the roof of a pueblo-style house. He’s a fugitive, and everyone in Albuquerque seems to be looking for him. A murderous Mafia prince wants to kill him. Two FBI agents want to cuff him. A Goth girl wants to make love to him. And a fierce, sexy Chicana just wants to clean up the mess Dylan made.

The trouble started with a drug-addled career criminal named Doc and a bank robbery staged with a garage door opener. Then it all goes off the rails after a little misunderstanding with Dylan’s ex-girlfriend and her jealous, gun-toting new beau.

When the sun comes up, this sleepy, scrawny desperado is going to show the world what he’s made of—all for a one-in-a-million shot at walking out of Duke City alive.

My Review:

I didn’t realize until this entry in the series that it’s the same hapless pair of FBI agents who get left holding the bag in every book in this series.

It’s not that Pam and Hector are involved with any of the crimes – it’s that they are the primary agents investigating each of the messes, and the bad guys keep getting the best of them, over and over. Their careers are never going to recover.

duke city hit by max austinThe story in Duke City Desperado, as in the previous entries, Duke City Split (reviewed here) and Duke City Hit (here) all comes from the criminal side of the equation. The poor FBI agents keep ending up as patsies.

And just like in the other stories, the criminals in Desperado are way more lucky than good. Doc and Dylan are pretty much small-time all the way around, until Doc, permanently hopped up on pharmaceutical grade speed, gets the wild idea to rob a bank through the drive up window. Pretending that a garage remote control is the detonator for a bomb.

The teller has to stop herself from laughing while she stalls Doc long enough for the police to get there. The police have a hard time too. No one has ever tried to rob a bank through the drive up because it is just so lame.

The bank captures the entire ridiculous scene on video. It’s an open and shut case.

Until it isn’t.

Poor Dylan is in the passenger seat of the van while Doc pulls his crazy stunt. When the cops enter the scene, Dylan exits, and a citywide manhunt ensues.

Doc ends up in Municipal Detention. Of course he does, he’s so high that he gives up Dylan’s name to the cops before he can manage to calm down and make a deal.

While Doc experiences the joys of the correctional system and waits for his trial, Dylan is on the run. Every place he goes, and every friend he looks up, just lands him and them in more and more trouble.

The only person who seems to be on Dylan’s side is a crazy Goth chick who gets turned on by all the violence that follows in Dylan’s hapless wake. As Dylan gets beaten and beaten up on all sides, together they cook up a foolish plan for her to honk off her hated stepfather by robbing the guy who pays her bills and helping Dylan spring Doc.

After all of Dylan’s incredibly hellacious bad luck, he finally gets just one thing right. It’s a hell of a ride.

duke city split by steve brewerEscape Rating B-: I didn’t like this one nearly as much as the first book in the series, Duke City Split. While Dylan just seems like someone who, if it wasn’t for bad luck, wouldn’t have any at all, the amount of chaos he manages to accidentally stir up strains the bounds of even fictional disbelief.

Neither Dylan nor Doc is evil, just hapless, hopeless and more than a bit lazy. Crime seems to be their easy way out, and they’re not particularly good at it. Right up until Doc turns spectacularly bad at it.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of motive or motivation for either of them, until Dylan finds himself on the run for something he not only didn’t do but actively argued against. He’s afraid to turn himself in because he’s sure, and undoubtedly correct, that the cops will find something to charge him with.

The wild and crazy stuff gets stirred up as Dylan starts looking for a friend to take him in and help him out. He manages to rile his ex-girlfriend’s insane new boyfriend, setting off multiple chases through the city, as the angry little man chases Dylan, the cops chase Dylan, and the ex-girlfriend gets her sister to chase the abusive new boyfriend. The Keystone Cops would feel right at home.

The Goth chick turns out to be the big surprise. At first she just seems part of the weird, but the more she talks about the hate-on she has for her stepfather, the more the reader starts to wonder. The surprise at the end of that particular plot string was a real shocker.

Duke City Desperado is a madcap cops and robbers chase across Albuquerque where you find yourself wanting the bad guys to ride off into the sunset – in their stolen Audi. You’re left wondering if the FBI has an even less prestigious post for those two agents, because if they do, they’re definitely going to be assigned there. Probably somewhere in Alaska. Like maybe Barrow.

Nobody should have luck that bad.


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