Tempted by Trouble
Two minutes is long enough to save a life—or end it, as a desperate husband finds out when he takes to a life of crime.
Dickey (Resurrecting Midnight, 2009, etc.) starts this bleak tale of a robbery gone wrong with a bang. "Sometimes the only choices a man had left were bad ones," says Dmytryk Knight, a former white-collar executive at a Detroit automaker. Eventually, Knight gets to telling us the circumstances that put him in a room with a hardened criminal named, weirdly enough, after the main character in George V. Higgins's seminal crime novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle. But first, Dickey puts his man on the run. Dmytryk is introduced in the midst of an L.A. bank robbery straight out of Heat, and he watches in horror as a wounded guard blows away his partners in crime. Yet it’s obvious from the start that Knight is a different kind of desperado. "John Dillinger," he muses. "That criminal knew there were only two ways to get money in the land of free enterprise: you earned it, or you took it at gunpoint. That was about as American as a man could get in the land of red, white, and the blues. Dillinger wasn’t my American hero." Knight’s reason for being is his estranged wife Cora, who took to exotic dancing to make ends meet before encouraging her husband to get into a dirtier business. After an ill-advised liaison with a dead man’s mistress, Dmytryk flees for the South, hoping to escape his dire straits and finally reunite with Cora. But as Knight learns, trouble is hard to shake.
Not as stark as the work of Walter Mosley, but Dickey’s novel embraces its noir influences.