Thursday, December 6, 2012

Baby Moll by John Farris

I just finished Baby Moll by John Farris, an old novel that has been reprinted as part of the Hard Case Crime imprint.  This wasn't the first offering from Hard Case that I read, and thus far I would give the line mixed reviews.  Having said that, Baby Moll was another fine novel courtesy of one of the most gifted writers of all.  Obviously I'm a huge fan of Farris, and I don't think anyone is able to get my blood pumping quite the way he does.  I could go on and on about his ability to craft a compelling yarn ripe with twists and turns that take the reader by surprise.  Farris is a true master and the fact that there isn't more awareness of his work is puzzling. 

Baby Moll was a bit tame compared to most of his books, but that didn't prevent it from being incredibly suspenseful and increasingly grim.  I saw the big twist coming from a mile away, and that's unusual for Farris, but the book didn't depend on the big twist and it still managed to dish out a few surprises here and there.

Peter Mallory is the main character in Baby Moll, and our story begins six years after he made a fast break from the Florida mob.  Seems his old boss is losing his grip as a vicious killer stalks him, and the old man thinks Peter's the only one who can save him.  Peter doesn't want to return to the life, but the boss doesn't really give him much of a choice.  Later, the old man gives him an easy out, but by then things have reached a point where there's no turning back for Peter Mallory.  Throughout the novel, Peter is surrounded by bloodthirsty thugs and beautiful women, and he's constantly giving chase or being chased.  Everyone wants a piece of this guy, and he can't trust anyone.

This was typical thriller fare, a nice piece of writing that hit all the necessary beats and delivered a tense  climax on the heels of a riveting ride that seldom lingered.  It was certainly one of John's lesser novels, but it was still a worthy book and I would place it at the top of the list so far as Hard Case Crime is concerned.  I would recommend one of his masterpieces like Son of the Endless Night or Fiends for anyone new to Farris, but Baby Moll is a neat find that will work wonders for those of us who are in the know when it comes to one of this country's finest authors.   

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