The hunter becomes the hunted in Ask The Dice by Ed Lynskey. This was a dark "crime noir" type novel that was different than most crime stories I've read. It felt like something out of the 50's, something reminiscent of a criminal version of Mike Hammer.
Tommy Mack Zane is something that doesn't happen often... an aging hit man for the mob. A black kid raised by white parents, he was hired as a teen by a local crime boss to carry out a contract killing. It certainly beat mowing lawns, and his "temporary" job became his regular occupation. Tommy Mack would like to retire and spend his days at the beach, but Mr. Ogg has other plans for his retirement... as in being dead. Tommy Mack is set up for the killing of Mr. Ogg's niece, and his colleagues become his potential killers. Matched against endless resources, his only hope is to eliminate the source of the hit. Easier said than done, however...
Lynskey creates some unique characters with interesting quirks. For instance, Tommy Mack has an aversion to cell phones, so he pretty much has a mental map of all the pay phones on his home turf. Mr. Ogg is a frail blind guy who has no qualms about ordering hits on anyone, even his own kin. I thought the ethnic dialogue might have been over-played a bit, but I guess if you're over 50 and stuck in the past, that may be what the character knows. As the story heads to its climax, Lynskey throws in a number of twists that cause one to rethink what just happened. Overall, Ask The Dice is an enjoyable read that definitely isn't run-of-the-mill...
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About the reviewer
Thomas Duff (duffbert)
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
"Terrific read. Highly recommend." Joseph Walsh, twitter
"The story is rich, but told in spare lean prose reminiscent of Ken Bruen." Jack Quick, Bookbitch.com
"Unique turns...entertaining read." Ron Thomas Brown, Crime Fiction Lover Blog
"Poignant...very engaging...explosive finale." Ricky Ward, Ric's Reviews Blog
"Ask the Diceis smashing, smoothly written slice of hard-boiled. The fast-moving story is interspersed with Zane's beat poetry and ruminations, so that it works well as a character study as well as a gritty crime story." Paul D. Brazill, You Would Say That, Wouldn't You? Blog