DIS/MEMBER - ALMOST DONE DIS/SECTING

[ADVANCE REVIEW] ‘FAST CHARLIE’ IS MASSIVELY ENTERTAINING FLORIDIAN NEO-NOIR

Read Time:3 Minute, 43 Second

Fast Charlie

Written by: Victor Gischler

Published by: Hard Case Crime & Titan Books

Originally Published as: Gun Monkeys (2001)

Advance Copy Provided for Review

She broke the embrace and said. “Come on. You’ve got to help me before you go.”

I followed her into the garage, and she picked up the dead guy by the ankles. “Get the other end, will you?”

I gripped him under the shoulders and lifted. “This is how we met, isn’t it?” I grinned.

She batted her eyes at me. “You’re so fucking romantic.”

“What are we going to do with this bastard?”

“Get him over to my worktable,” she said. “I’ll cut up some trash bags to put around him. We’ll wrap the whole thing in duct tape. You can do ANYTHING with duct tape.”

It was then I knew I was in love with her.

I am a massive fan of when creatives I like swap mediums. I am even more a fan of when that swap produces something just as good, if not better, than the thing I knew them from originally.

Case in point, author Victor Gischler. For the longest time, I mainly knew him from his work on 2010’s X-Men and Dynamite Entertainment’s The Shadow ongoing series. Two comics I collected voraciously. Little knowing that Gischler had an entire other career in prose! Enter Fast Charlie, a new reprint of Gischler’s debut novel Gun Monkeys from the good, hard-boiled folks at Hard Case Crime and Titan Books.

Standing as a pitch-black mixture of the droll humor of his Deadpool work and the terse action of Punisher: MAX (yet another comic I bought nearly every issue of), Fast Charlie is one banger of a “debut”. One that makes me powerfully curious about the rest of Gischler’s prose work. If they are even half this strong, then I am in for quite a few treats in the near future.

Fast Charlie introduces readers to Charlie Swift. An outwardly stoic, yet oddly introspective mob hitman who is “stationed” in and around Central Florida. Under the stern, but fatherly hand of Stan, a Bronx Outfit transfer, Charlie has a relatively routine life. He gets his orders. He carries them out. However, after a grandly botched job, Stan goes missing. Leaving Charlie literally holding more than a few bags as a brand new crew from down Orlando way decimates Charlie’s running buddies.

Obviously, “hitman on the run” narratives are nothing new, but what really sets Fast Charlie apart from the pack is it’s characters. Told exclusively through Charlie’s punchy, bone-dry perspective, Gischler provides us a keen window into Charlie’s life and experiences. How he reacts to his fellow “peers”, how deeply he feels in debt to Stan. Best of all, just how goddamn good he is as dealing out violence.

However, Charlie isn’t our only in-road into the Florida mob sphere. Co-leads Marcie, Lou the “New Guy”, and Charlie’s family round out the cast, providing much needed humor and heart throughout Charlie’s two-gun crusade.

Admittedly and all-too-often the crime/thriller genre only introduce characters like this to sacrifice them. Using the deaths of the side cast to further motivate our hard-knuckled toward the last act. I am beyond happy to report that Gischler and Fast Charlie deftly avoids this trap. Opting instead to allow them to be full blown co-stars. Peppering the thunderous action and tense mystery plotting with genuinely affecting romance and consistently funny droll humor. Up to and including the above teased runner about Marcie and Charlie’s shared love of duct tape and another truly funny ongoing gag about Charlie’s (mis)adventures butting up against screenings of The Wizard of Oz.

To say anything else would be to give away some of Fast Charlie’s better fients. And would likely spoil any future screenings of the incoming film adaptation starring Pierce Brosnan, queen of my heart Morena Baccarin, and James Caan in his final film appearance. But what I CAN say is that Fast Charlie is a welcome new addition to the Hard Case Crime canon. And a grand example of the burgeoning “Florida Man” subgenre of modern noir/pulp.

If you have only known Victor Gischler’s name and words in support of your favorite mutants and anti-heroes, give Fast Charlie a look. You’ll be happy you did.

Fast Charlie by Victor Gischler releases December 12th and is available for pre-order now. 

 

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9.4

Textured & Charming Characters

9.0/10

Endlessly Readable

10.0/10

Commanding Language

9.0/10

Genuinely Funny Moments

10.0/10

Another Winner From HCC/Titan Books

9.0/10
Justin Partridge
justin@betweenthepanels.com
Lover of table top RPGs, prog rock, and anything with Walton Goggins in it. Find his other blathering at THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
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