“Burglars tend to prefer the dark because, while some of us are pretty dumb, there aren’t many of us stupid enough to begin a job by turning on the lights.”
“Nighttown” by Timothy Hallinan is the first person narrative by Junior Bender, a person on the “edge” of society, a burglar, actually, but not one of the bad guys. This is book seven in the series, but new and returning readers easily follow Junior’s descriptions and interpretations of what he sees, and eavesdrop on his thoughts as he plans his next move. Junior and his girl-friend Ronnie are desperate for money because they plan to kidnap her two-year-old son from his father, a New Jersey mob doctor, and it will be an expensive proposition.
Junior is in Horton House; it is old, dark, and vacant. Its demolition is scheduled in just a few days. He is being well paid to retrieve an item left inside the almost empty house, and he has the key to get in. What could go wrong? Well, quite a lot, actually.
Junior’s thorough details and reflections every step of the way make readers active participants in the exploits. Junior and readers are looking everywhere and finding nothing. Hallinan establishes Horton House as an essential character right from the start.
“The hallway’s white ceiling was arched, like the doorways and the openings to the other rooms. The effect was beautiful in a slightly churchy manner. Builders used to care about the houses they built. Dangling above me was a delicately angular wrought iron chandelier.”
Of course, no old house would be complete without old books, and Horton house has plenty of those, even classic first editions.
“Then I sat, turning the little book over in my hands. It was at least fifty, maybe even sixty, years old. The paper was brittle enough to have broken, so cleanly it might have been cut, along several diagonals where a corner had been dog-eared.”
The distinctive cast of characters has unique names as well including Ting Ting, Stinky, Eaglet, Anime, and Lumia. There are moments of hilarity amongst the trauma with rainbow toenail polish, orange wigs, Minnie’s Mouse House, and hiccups.
“The scariest part of the movie is always when the killer gets hiccups. Makes my hair stand on end every time…Death and hiccups. They’ve gone together for centuries. That’s why the deadliest man in the old West was called Wild Bill Hiccup.”
The action takes place over just a few days, so readers are eager to find out what Horton House will reveal next. I received a review copy of “Nighttown” from Timothy Hallinan, Soho Crime, and Edelweiss. I have read previous Junior Bender books, and found this as funny and enjoyable as the others. It is an easy, quick, book to read, and readers can follow the intense search and laugh at the same time.