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Before They Make You Run

James Patrick Hunt
In Print
Thomson Gale (Five Star) (2006)

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This entry created 27 December 2010. Last revised on 5 September 2016.

3,210 hits since 27 Dec 2010
©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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Before They Make You Run
Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star no star no star no star (7.00)

243 pages.

This is a quick, fun crime noir title set in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The protagonist - who you don't actually meet until the second chapter - is Paul Kessler, a reasonably successful attorney.

Chapter Two (p.20):

It was hard to pin it down precisely, but Kessler believed the moment he first got the hots for Judge Carol Macy was when she pointed her finger at him in open court and said, "If you don't stop this right now, I'm going to hold your ass in contempt."

Well... hmmmm. Was there something Freudian or masochistic about it? Some deep-seated, personal, psychosexual thing for authority figures? Or perhaps just something improper, unprofessional... somethin' stupid, as Frank and Nancy would croon. Would he stand in line if Carol thought she'd find the time to spend a moment with him?

An infatuation that might never have led anywhere at all - but that would be a boring novel, wouldn't it? As it turns out, Carol Macy is a lonely "soccer mom" married to a jealous and controlling husband, and under just the right circumstances, mutual attraction explodes into... well, an affair.

And when Carol is murdered, Kessler finds himself framed. (Her husband, you see, is the chief of police.)

Chapter Ten (p.90-91):

Lights flashing. Blue, red. Blue, red.

Kessler glanced up at his rearview mirror.

"Shit," he said. Now what?


Something. A movement by the police officer. A flash of something, near his waist. It made Kessler step out and move farther away from the door of his car.

Kessler held up his hands, chest level. "I'm not armed," he said.

The policeman said, "What?"

"I'm not armed."

The cop said, "I know."

A couple of confused and ominous moments passed. Kessler said, "Then why have you pulled out your gun?"

And so begins the suspense - how is Paul Kessler going to survive, when the police chief and his rogue cops are determined to pin the murder on him. Plus throw in a strip club, a philosophical mobster, a beautiful waitress, family and friends, and you get an amazing ride with a satisfying ending. My only complaint is that I never was that interested in the protagonist - it was the plot (and the supporting characters) that hooked me. The author particularly does crooked cops well.

As you can tell from the quotes, there is some profane language from time to time; and since the book does involve an affair (plus a strip club), there are some sexual situations (but nothing gratuitous).

I'd love to see someone write an adventure for one of the crime rulesets that involved an underdog taking on a crooked police department...

Reviewed by Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian.