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London Boulevard    by Ken Bruen order for
London Boulevard
by Ken Bruen
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2009 (2001)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

After three years in a British prison on an aggravated battery charge, Mitchell is back on the streets when Ken Bruen's London Boulevard begins, and the forty-five year old ex-con is determined to salvage what he can out of life. Unfortunately, he is unlikely to follow a friend's advice to lighten up and not take everything too seriously because he is dangerously preoccupied with yearnings, losses, and regrets.

Although his future on the outside seems to be in jeopardy, Mitchell nevertheless stumbles into a singularly promising job as handyman (and on-call companion) for an attractive actress whose star has been somewhat dimmed by the passage of time. However, at the same time, Mitchell remains unable to resist involving himself also with some of the more shady associates from his past. Meanwhile, as he attempting to balance the various demands on his time as a resourceful employee who is much sought after because of his incredible talents (and stamina), Mitchell also finds himself head-over-heels in love with an unlikely admirer. And as London Boulevard progresses, the body count in London escalates, which underscores a simple fact of life: Mitchell is a superb friend and a dangerous enemy.

Bruen's dark portrait of a man living on the absolute precipice between life and death moves along quickly with some of the sharpest dialogue and the most compelling characterizations found anywhere in crime fiction. Fierce, violent, and nasty - as sharp as the ragged edges of a broken whiskey bottle wielded in a barroom fight, and with more energy than a coke-head who has consumed half a dozen cans of Red Bull™ - London Boulevard (previously published in 2001 in the U.K. but now finally available in the U.S.) is a first-rate noir novel. This is one you will definitely want to read and enjoy in advance of the forthcoming major motion picture starring Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley.

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