An Ordinary Decent Criminal
Michael Van Rooy
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Buy *An Ordinary Decent Criminal* by Michael Van Rooy online

An Ordinary Decent Criminal
Michael Van Rooy
Minotaur Books
304 pages
June 2011
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Monty Haaviko has left behind a career in crime, years of drug abuse, violence and incarceration. Settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with his wife and baby son, he is determined to embrace the straight life. But when home invaders break in, Monty sees no course but to kill them. He suddenly finds himself in the crosshairs of a star police sergeant who loves the attention of the press and a small-time crime boss, each of them with their own agenda and happy to send this upstart ex-con back where he came from.

All of this would be the usual criminal vs. copsí story, save the extraordinary writing of an author who turns his protagonist into the classic underdog who deserves a second chance. And Monty has serious skills, survival skills learned the hard way in the joint, where life is measured by force and action. He may be straight now, but thereís no way Monty is going to let anyone threaten the well-being of his wife and son.

From the home invasion in the first chapter to the final satisfying pages when Monty confronts his nemesis, tough Detective Enzio Walsh, Monty is confronted on all sides by hostile neighbors, hate notes scribbled in crayon, police brutality behind closed doors, a less-than-reliable legal system and the ill-intentions of others. His only weapon lies in the knowledge gleaned through years behind bars: ďItís not enough to destroy a man unless you destroy his reputation.Ē

Liar, cheat, thief, addict - Monty has learned along the way, endlessly creative and a natural con. With the promise to his wife not to kill anyone, Monty begins to fight back, more devious than MacGyver and certainly endearing. The authorís innate sense of humor elevates this tale from crime novel to an exploration of the murky moral territory of survival when faced with superior force and the resources of law enforcement and criminal networks.

Letís face it - who doesnít want to root for the underdog, even if he was a killer and an addict? While the demons of the past tempt him, Monty keeps his eye on the goal: the safety of his wife and son. He goes against a bureaucracy and the natural inclination of police to protect their own the only way he knows how.

Dropping tips along the way in a hostile world (crazy glue on the fingertips to obliterate fingerprints; extreme courtesy when conducting a crime in public), Van Rooy has created a contemporary hero who defines an individualís struggle against the weight of a society that has judged and found irredeemable. Admittedly, a career criminal yearning for the straight life may be an anomaly, but thereís just something about this guy that makes you want him to succeed. And thatís thanks to this authorís stellar storytelling and appreciation of the changeableness of the human heart.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2010

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