The Bouncer

Tags:  crime-fiction, thrillers,

David Gordon’s unique thriller opens with a series of police raids in New York City. Local and federal law enforcement are under pressure from above as worries of an impending terrorist attack escalate.

The Bouncer by David Gordon

The cops, not knowing who their targets are, or where they may be lurking, have to look like they’re doing something to quell the public angst. So, like the authorities in Casablanca, they round up the usual suspects in a series of high profile raids. Caught up among the small fry in one of those raids is Joe Brody, a loner and former Special Ops agent with an opiate habit.

Joe is a bouncer at a Mafia-owned strip club in Queens. He spends the night in a jail cell with members of other organized crime groups, and here, the cops have unwittingly arranged some criminal cross-pollination. In lockup, Joe gets recruited by a member of a rival Chinese gang to help with a weapons heist.

Some redneck down in Carolina is sending a shipment of stolen military goods to a private, backwoods gun show in rural Pennsylvania. Joe’s job is to help hijack the truck and bring the weapons back to an anonymous boss.

Things go wrong quickly. The Feds have also been tipped off to the arms shipment. They sweep in mid-heist, taking out a key member of Joe’s crew. To make matters worse, the Feds presence has spooked the preppers, survivalists and militia-types attending the private gun sale, flushing a truckload of them out of the woods and into Joe’s heist-in-progress. Before we know it, everyone is fighting everyone.

We only a few pages into the book and off to a flying start. The action doesn’t let up.

Joe, we soon learn, is one of the few players on top of the game in these chaotic battles that crop up again and again through the story. His streetwise survivor’s instinct combined with military training and years of battle experience in Afghanistan have prepared him for some tough encounters.

He and one accomplice survive the heist, barely, and make it back to the safe house with their cache of weapons. Here, Joe gets another offer. Take your pay for the successful heist and walk, or join us on our second mission for a much bigger payday. Turns out, the weapons were a prerequisite for job number two, which is much more daring and dangerous, with higher stakes.

After hearing the plan and meeting his co-workers–a colorful cast of mercenaries, hackers, safe crackers and seasoned thieves–Joe says he’s in.

The second heist goes even further off the rails than the first, the group splits into factions, and Joe finds himself dodging the FBI, his former heist mates, and assassins from a rival gang as he tries to figure out what exactly they just stole and who paid them to steal it.

I won’t give any more away, but suffice it to say the tension and the stakes keep getting higher and the battles crazier.

David Gordon wastes no words as the story races forward. It’s occasionally difficult to keep all the characters straight and to fully visualize some of the action scenes. But we do see a number of scenes from two or three perspectives, and the important characters are all well enough drawn for us to remember who’s who.

The only other writer I’ve read with level of non-stop hardcore action is Charlie Huston. If you like his work, you’ll like David Gordon.