It took me a few pages of Paul D. Brazill’s Too Many Crooks (Near to the Knuckle) to settle into Brazill’s style — a Tarantino humor with Leonard’s directness. And, who names one of the main characters McGuffin? Either you’ll laugh at this joke or not. I laughed and I think you will too.
This McGuffin thing is a literary easter egg, if you will, and Brazill sprinkles many others throughout Too Many Crooks. There is a family of characters name Rhatigan — I presume named after Chris Rhatigan, a crime fiction writer and editor. The novel’s title even comes from a British movie comedy of the same name “about a bunch of inept crooks who kidnap the wrong woman.” Hell, even some of the chapter titles are jokes that I got. What other jokes and references will you find?
Too Many Crooks moves quickly between London and Warsaw and back again as well as criminal to criminal. Like all good crime books, it begins with a murder.
Ted Singh had really had enough of Bobby Jake’s incessant whining and he was more than somewhat relieved when Ziggy eventually shot the annoying fucker in the back of the head, spraying blood and gunk down the front of Jake’s previously pristine white Fred Perry t– shirt.
Ted’s guts churned. Although he certainly had no qualms about the moral aspects of murdering Bobby Jake, he didn’t really have the stomach for the gory stuff. He never had, truth be told.
“Hold onto this for me,” said Ziggy, handing the Glock to Ted whose hands shook as he took the gun.
The novel might actually have too many crooks, but don’t worry, that’s why the criminals carry firearms. The felonious herd is thinned out repeatedly and with great effect. But nasty killings are not the only things you will find in Too Many Crooks, Brazill’s writing is fast-paced and humorous which makes this one-sitting novel a lively read.