Sunday, April 17, 2011

OUTSOURCED: All Too Real! Gritty and Funny, from Dave Zeltserman

It's tempting, isn't it -- to contemplate solving a family problem via murder, or replacing lost income through a bank robbery. But you wouldn't really do it, right?

In Dave Zeltserman's hands, the slide into actually planning a bank robbery seems like the only solution for a handful of aging computer whizzes whose jobs have been "outsourced" to India, or simply reserved for younger, quicker minds trained in the newest programming languages and platforms. And in Dan Wilson, Boston-area software pro, Dave Zeltserman has written a classic character whose woes multiply with every further step into crime-as-solution.

Dan's desperation matches those of several friends, whose resum├ęs look "too old," too dated, for the current marketplace. And he knows something about a local bank's security that leaves it vulnerable to a well-timed, neatly executed robbery. Why not his?

If you're a Westlake fan, you know some of what comes next: The perfect foursome Dan envisions for the task expands to five, then six; the loot taken from the bank turns out to involve a vicious mob personality; people who aren't supposed to shoot, do it anyway. And Dan's "intuitive" wife Carol, for whom he'd do anything -- even rob a bank -- gets suspicious. Very suspicious. Uh-oh.

In addition to Zeltserman's lively pace and immaculately timed dark comic twists, the prolific Boston writer -- a former software pro himself -- continues to craft both vivid scenes and unique turns of phrase. I love the opening of chapter 2, when over-aged-and-out-of-work Gordon Carmichael struggles to suck in his gut, and to stand so his jowls don't sag, while imagining how he could conquer the job market if he could just afford plastic surgery. And when the very disturbed Eric Hoffer becomes part of the gang, Dan's take on his appearance is a warning in graphic red flags: "He looked pretty much how Dan remembered him. Small eyes that seemed almost buried in a pig-like face and skin the color of boiled ham." Oh yeah, got it!

This book is a must for any collection of caper crime fiction, that time-honored genre that inspires snorts of laughter tucked between groans of disgust and the urge to call out, "No, don't do it!" Dan Wilson and his ill-timed venture into crime are totally engrossing, totally memorable, and oh, so very unfortunate ... even when Dan gets what he thinks he wants, he's headed for more losses. Gotta love it.

OUTSOURCED is a paperback original issued by Serpent's Talk, Zeltserman's long-time British publisher. With his brilliance in dark crime and satire, Zeltserman continues to turn out more books than any one publisher can handle, though, and is now offering e-books of new titles like the Julius Katz Mysteries (a grand new take on Nero Wolfe) and one that I'm eager to read soon, Blood Crimes. See his blog for more details: http://smallcrimes-novel.blogspot.com.

1 comment:

Beth Kanell said...

For Dave Zeltserman's detailed back-story to OUTSOURCED, check this out: http://smallcrimes-novel.blogspot.com/2011/04/on-writing-outsourced.html