Frank Sinatra in a Blender

Frank Sinatra in a Blender - Matthew McBride 3.5 Stars
How ex-cop-turned-investigator Nick Valentine even makes it through the day on two feet, let alone solve mysteries, is beyond me. The drunk private dick is a mystery cliche that has been run into the ground for decades. But you haven't truly read a book about a heavy-drinking detective until you've read Frank Sinatra in a Blender. Nick Valentine, our protagonist with a liver made of concrete, is called in to help investigate the "suicide" of a banker. Soon, he discovers that the body is linked to a botched robbery of a credit union and joins in the blood-soaked hunt for the missing money.

Nick Valentine is such a great character to follow. He's laid-back, but still tough, and at times sensitive. He's practicing real discipline by quitting cigarettes and coffee, but he damn sure won't quit the stuff that really makes him tick: multiple shots of Southern Comfort and tequila, bottles of Corona, and snorts of Oxycontin and Percocet. And he lives in his nasty office with his best friend, Yorkshire terrier and pissing champion Frank Sinatra.

Although Nick is a great character and there are some downright hilarious moments in the book, my main problem with the story is one of my biggest pet peeves: an inactive protagonist. Through the first two-thirds of the book Nick hardly does anything other than drink and hang out with Frank, while the rest of the actual story happens around him. And you never really get a sense of how good of an investigator he really is. This really took me out of the story for most of the book's first half. I wish more attention was paid to involving the main character in the book's driving action than to the long passages describing heavy drinking and drug use. I swear, it seems like everyone in the story was either snorting something, using a needle, or getting drunk. It wasn't until the last third that Nick started taking real action. Once this happens, the story flies off the page in well-written action sequences and a great pace. Just wish it happened earlier.

But again, I loved reading about Nick and I think he would make a really awesome series character. There's potential for a great franchise here. The author is fairly new, having only written two novels so far, so here's hoping he has more stories featuring Nick Valentine to tell! I would read 'em!