I’m typically not a big fan of actors/celebrities turning to fiction writing, but I’ve enjoyed David McCallum’s acting work since his days on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and again more recently with N.C.I.S. and I was really hoping to enjoy this book. Unfortunately, I didn’t.
Harry Murphy is a talented actor who gets caught up with a group of aging mobsters who have planned one final hit before hoping to retire quietly. Harry tries to warn the intended victim, but this leads to even more danger and Harry will have to rely on his acting skills to get himself through the perilous situation.
It’s an interesting idea, but McCallum shows that he doesn’t have a background writing mystery/thrillers. The book is unnecessarily complicated, the characters don’t really set themselves apart and the story is filled with non-essential moments. One of the most obvious non-essential moments would be the inclusion of a gratuitous sex scene. Actually…it’s not just sex, but rape. And what’s more … the woman loves it. So much so that she completes falls in love with her rapist.
I like a little bit of sex in my fiction – it can be a nice way to spice things up, but I did not enjoy this. Maybe it’s just me, but there was nothing sexy or erotic about this and it did not advance the plot. This made it feel like a throw-back to the dime novels of the 1950’s.
The story just seemed to go on and on. I was bored early and it was a struggle to keep reading. The character of Harry was interesting but I was still never drawn to him and I never understood his motivation for anything he did.
I had really hoped I would enjoy this work, but it was sadly one of the worst things I’ve slogged through this year.
Looking for a good book? David McCallum’s Once a Crooked Man isn’t even close.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Once a Crooked Man
author: David McCallum
publisher: Minotaur Books
hardcover, 352 pages