Author: David Gordon
Genre: Mystery, Fiction
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
In David Gordon’s diabolically imaginative new thriller, The Bouncer, nothing and no one is as expected—from a vial of yellow fragrance to a gangster who moonlights in women’s clothes.
Joe Brody is just your average Dostoevsky-reading, Harvard-expelled strip club bouncer who has a highly classified military history and whose best friend from Catholic school happens to be head mafioso Gio Caprisi.
FBI agent Donna Zamora, the best shot in her class at Quantico, is a single mother stuck at a desk manning the hotline. Their storylines intersect over a tip from a cokehead that leads to a crackdown on Gio’s strip joint in Queens and Joe’s arrest—just one piece of a city-wide sweep aimed at flushing out anyone who might have a lead on the various terrorists whose photos are hanging on the wall under Most Wanted.
Outside the jailhouse, the Fed and the bouncer lock eyes, as Gordon launches them both headlong into a nonstop plot that goes from back-road gun show intervention to high-stakes perfume heist and manages to touch everyone from the CIA to the Flushing Triads. Beneath it all lurks a sinister criminal mastermind whose manipulations could cause chaos on a massively violent scale.
David Gordon’s debut is an unexpectedly fun heist-gone-wrong story filled with plenty of action and humor. Unwittingly pulled into a job where absolutely nothing is as it seems, Joe Brody proves himself again and again as anything but your average bouncer.
Gordon’s wildly entertaining writing style meshes perfectly with a main character like Brody, who rolls with the punches even as the stakes are constantly shifting. He can be calm and collected in the most dire of situations, but he can also turn his body into a lethal weapon at the flip of a switch, and it’s so much fun to tag along for the ride.
Although we start out primarily from Brody’s perspective, at the plot picks up, so do the point of view shifts. We flit between a variety of the colorful individuals in Gordon’s eclectic cast of characters. During several of the scenes, the quick shifts in perspective were handled in an almost tongue-in-cheek sort of way that had me grinning and appreciating Gordon’s unusual and specific writing style.
What didn’t quite work for me was how the fast pacing only left room for rather shallow characters. I would have liked to dive deeper into the backgrounds of especially Joe Brody and Donna Zamora, and I could have done without the forced attraction between them. Nevertheless, because The Bouncer only clocks in at just over 200 pages, it’s clear that this is a book that intends for its readers to get lost in the action rather than the characters, and once you embrace that, it’s still a fun ride.
The Bouncer is a short, action-packed read that makes for a solid debut from David Gordon. What it lacked in character development, it certainly made up for in its zany roller coaster plot, and it certainly succeeded in putting a smile on my face!
Warm thanks to Grove Atlantic and Mysterious Press for providing me with an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.