Stockbroker Austin Carr can be forgiven for his somewhat bleak outlook. After all, the divorced father of two is barely on the comeback trail following a pretty rough series of events in the first entry in the series, Big Numbers.
Big Money, the second chance for readers to take Carr for a spin, finds Austin serving as a consultant/advisor at the investment firm he’s a part owner of, Shore Securities, while he waits for the suspension on his license to be lifted.
Trouble is, it may not matter whether or not he gets that license back, because Shore is being investigated by the feds for allegedly commingling funds, a problem his boss, Vic Bonacelli, leaves Austin to handle while Vic runs off to Tuscany. Of course, if that were the only problem Austin had to deal with he may still be okay.
Instead, he’s also saddled with keeping an eye on Vic’s daughter, who’s in the midst of a messy breakup, and Vic’s mother, the infamous Mama Bones, who’s been known to have a hand in some underhanded dealings involving bookmaking…and bingo fixing. (Don’t ask.)
Add to the mix an associate of Vic’s known as Tony the Torch, Luis, Austin’s friend and owner of Austin’s favorite hangout, Luis’s Mexican Grill, a murder victim with a connection to Austin, a mobster called Bluefish and his freakishly huge driver/bodyguard, a former bear wrestler Austin dubs “The Creeper,” and a New Jersey State Trooper/Special Prosecutor hell bent on catching herself a big fish—a blue one—and you have all the ingredients for a hell of an entertaining ride.
You can have all the best ingredients in the world, however, but if you don’t know how to assemble them it’s all for naught. And what makes the Austin Carr stories particularly enjoyable is author Jack Getze’s skill at mixing up those ingredients and striking just the right balance between serious and seriously funny. Make no mistake, there is plenty of high-stakes action in Big Money. After all, you can’t very well have not one but two mob factions involved in a story without a few heads getting busted. But when your guide is Austin Carr, things tend to get relayed through his decidedly sarcastic and more than slightly skewed perspective, which can make for some laugh out loud moments even during the most unlikely of situations. Getze knows just when to pull back, however, and Austin’s exploits and motormouth never cross the line from merely amusing into that wacky/zany territory inhabited by the likes of Stephanie Plum.
Getze also has a way with character, again able to find a balance that can make even the most questionable of brutes interesting. The Creeper, for example, is an immensely fascinating piece of work. And though most of the book is told from Austin’s point of view, the few chapters the reader is treated to inside the Creeper’s head are, frankly, rather disturbing. He’s not a nice man—and does one thing that had I been reading a traditional book instead of a Kindle I may have thrown it across the room–though he does have his own odd morality, as well as one of the more bizarre backstories you’ll ever read. (Note: Strange things happen when one grows up in a circus. And I’ll just leave it at that.) Getze is so good at what he does, however, that even the Creeper’s action that bothered me actually didn’t keep me from, well, sorta liking the guy—and that takes some serious damn skill for an author to pull off.
So, if you’re in the market for a fast-paced (they really are; that’s not just a buzzword) read that has just the right mix of (organized) crime, mystery and mirth, take Austin Carr for a test drive. And be sure to check out Jack’s guest post, wherein he shares the inspiration behind Big Money, “This Thing of Ours.”
Big Money is available from Down and Out Books (ISBN: 978-1937495671).