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King Maybe: A Junior Bender Mystery


King Maybe: A Junior Bender Mystery

KING MAYBE is the fifth and possibly the darkest of the Junior Bender books. Junior, a Los Angeles burglar for hire, is a complex and complicated soul who doesn’t permit his tragic childhood to keep him from being down to earth. Author Timothy Hallinan has been evolving his character gradually over the course of what has become an iconic series, one that should be at or near the top of your must-read list if it isn’t already.

The latest installment builds on the previous volumes, but Hallinan, master wordsmith and storyteller that he is, gives newcomers just enough of what they might need to follow along so they don’t have to worry about jumping right in. Certainly KING MAYBE is Hallinan’s most ambitious work in the series to date. It’s a mystery/thriller, wrapped around a Hollywood tell-all (or tell-most). Anyone who has watched movies or television shows with regularity and wondered how ideas go from someone’s brain onto video or whatever format will find the middle portions of the novel interesting, to say the least. As far as suspense goes, Hallinan drops Junior into three different burglaries: at the beginning, (roughly the) middle and (near) the end of the book. The mortar that is between these very solid and suspenseful bricks consists of memorable dialogue and quirky characters, some of whom are unforgettable.

"[E]ven if you come for the mystery and suspense, you’ll want to stay for the characters, who are almost as intriguing as Junior himself."

Let’s start with the burglaries. The first of these involves Junior stealing a postage stamp from the worst person possible. He hasn’t even completed that caper when one of his past sins comes back to haunt him, and it’s a ghost that can be exorcised in only one way. That way is through a Hollywood mogul named Jeremy Granger, who is known as “King Maybe,” so called because he takes options on screenplays that maybe, just maybe, will be turned into film. Granger is one of the most powerful people in Hollywood, and when Junior gets crossways with him after attempting to pay off an old debt, the only way out for him is to do a job for Granger himself, a job that is almost impossible, even for the most in-demand burglar in Los Angeles. Junior knows it’s difficult, but with a little help from his girlfriend, a pair of 14-year-old computer hackers, and a couple of other folks, he just might get it done. That, as it turns out, is the absolute worst thing that could happen to him.

It’s an interesting story, but even if you come for the mystery and suspense, you’ll want to stay for the characters, who are almost as intriguing as Junior himself. Watch out in particular for Garlin Romaine, who is introduced about two-thirds of the way through the story and takes a page or so to describe a place named Thontein. That description alone makes buying this book the best money you might spend this month. I highlighted the passage in both my eReader and physical copy; it’s that good, as is the rest of the book. Timothy Hallinan is one of our best, and KING MAYBE demonstrates why.

P.S. Junior: I never could climb that rope either.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on April 15, 2016

King Maybe: A Junior Bender Mystery
by Timothy Hallinan

  • Publication Date: March 21, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime
  • ISBN-10: 1616958022
  • ISBN-13: 9781616958022