Friday, 12 February 2016

Take Your Shot by Daniel Pieracci

ReviewerJJ Marsh

What we thought: A terrific debut novel of family, organised crime, fashion, morality and fruit juice. Set in LA, this is a sharply observed take on ambition and playing the game with moments which make you wince, think and laugh. Two families find their paths crossing in ways they’d never imagined.

The Carcettis are the most powerful crime family in the southwestern US. Papa’s into yoga and freshly squeezed juice, prostitution and drug trafficking. He and Frank, his right-hand man and chief juicer, are looking for new blood.

FBI agent Mario Perez is desperate to climb the career ladder and when handed the Carcetti case, sees his chance for glory. It will involve sacrifice, but he’s ready for that. His wife, Rosalita, is much more interested in the whereabouts of their second son. Chico’s run off and got in with a bad crowd, while Mario, their first born, is pretty, content and sleeping his way through all the beautiful people in LA.

When the two families' destinies cross, it’s only going to work out for one of them.

The dialogue is whipsmart, the setting subtly evoked and the characterisation is created in bold strokes. One of my favourites is Gladys, a minor personage in the scheme of things, but with a superb line in verbal abuse.

There’s violence and injustice, loyalties and betrayals, alongside love and principles, and in all the broad strokes and bright colours of Roy Liechtenstein. As the plot grows tauter and more complex, the reader finds herself sympathising with both sides of the legal divide and wishing everyone could get what they want.

Not a book to begin if you need to get anything else done that day.

You’ll enjoy this if you liked: The Wire, almost everything by the Coen brothers, and Pulp Fiction

Avoid if you don’t like: Black humour, violence, organised crime

Ideal accompaniments: Empanadas, raspberry-orange-pineapple juice and Heartattack and Vine by Tom Waits

Genre: Contemporary, crime fiction

Available from Amazon

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