Russian Roulette (Dev Haskell #1), by Mike Faricy [Review]

Devlin Haskell is a classic hard-boiled private detective, in a modern setting, with a heavy dose of humor. Author Make Faricy has created a character who harkens back to Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, with a quick wit, a perpetually unrequited love life, and a penchant for getting into trouble. When a bombshell blonde named Kerri walks into his life at the start of Russian Roulette, offering him work, he immediately dives into the case, and into bed with the Russian vixen. The situation careens sideways from there, as his client turns out to be connected to a Russian mobster engaged in human trafficking in the Minneapolis area. Nothing Kerri tells Dev is true, and in the process of trying to investigate what he thinks is his case (it isn’t really), Dev is shot, beaten up, and nearly killed by an explosion – then shot again and beaten up again – as he tries to make sense of the situation.

Despite Dev’s sarcastic sense of humor and his Calamity Jane propensity to end up in the hospital, he has a cadre of friends around him who have his back and continue to step up when he needs them. The side characters get fleshed out a bit in this first book in the series, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop in the books ahead. I received a boxed set of the first three books as a gift and I’m reviewing book #1 now without having read any of the others.

The book is a load of fun as we meet and get to know Dev. There’s plenty of action in a B-movie kind of setting, and nothing will surprise you by the end of the tale. Every new lead produces a new puzzle and a new peril for Dev, which is the whole point of the whirlwind pace of the story, split up in to many small chapters. There are times in the late-middle of the book when the pace drags a bit as the complicated plot has to play out. There is never a great explanation for why Kerri sought out Dev in the first place, although you get the idea that she figured she could manipulate him and since he was not exactly turning away business, he’d take any case. Dev doesn’t seem to have any other clients or any other work throughout the story, although he has some big hospital bills.

Despite small issues in this first book of the series, it’s a fun romp with lots of colorful characters and plenty of action. It is also very well edited, with clean writing throughout. What makes it a thoroughly enjoyable read is the humor and hard-boiled writing style that Mr. Faricy brings to the table. You seldom see the combination of an intricate mystery and the dead-pan humor of Dev Haskell. Very entertaining and well worth picking up.

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