Between The Lines

Chump Change (Leo Waterman #8)

Chump Change (A Leo Waterman Mystery) - G.M. Ford

Author: G M Ford

Performed by Patrick Lawlor

Publisher: Brilliance Audio, released on Audible April 2014

Category: Hardboiled, Noir

 

Sometimes it’s the things you don’t do that come back to haunt you, just as surely as some questions are best left unanswered. 

When “Leo” is the last word a stranger speaks, the Seattle private eye launches himself into a search for answers. Not only does the dead man have a connection to Leo’s past, but he was also worth millions—and some very dangerous people know it. 

 

After years of struggling to make ends meet as a Seattle PI, Leo Waterman recently inherited the trust fund from his late father’s less than legal dealings and has lapsed into semi-retirement, although he can’t quite come to terms with having such a large sum of unearned wealth. His thoughts and feelings show a conscious awareness of himself and give a roundness to his character.

 

This story has our hero involved in a new relationship and life is going well. Until there’s a burglary at the house next door to where he and his girlfriend are house sitting. The arrival of the police result in the death of a man whose last word was Leo’s name. It seems Leo and retirement don’t mix, especially when the realisation hits he was acquainted with the dead man. And the more he learns, the more answers he wants and the deeper the investigation pulls him in.

 

The Morrison’s door frame bristled with fresh splinters. The white, four panel door hung from a single hinge, oscillating slightly as the wind swirled about. A muddy boot print adorned the centre of the door. Probably not the UPS guy, I figured.

I heaved an inward sigh. I don’t know exactly what propelled me forward. I’d prefer to think I was motivated by a sense of responsibility, of being my brother’s keeper, or something vaguely noble like that, but when you look at my history, it’s hard to attribute it to anything except the mule-headed stupidity that’s taken a chunk out of my hide so many times in the past. I guess some folks never learn.

 

Leo is a nonconformist, realistic and sometimes laugh out loud funny – a great protagonist who is immediately likeable. He’s a mixture of smart, funny, good-hearted and doesn’t stand for injustice even if it means trouble with a capital T. Before long Leo is caught in the middle of a high risk situation where finding the truth could cost the ultimate price.

 

Colourful and entertaining characters, especially the new side kick, Keith, who makes a bad call in the beginning of the story which results in a big change in his life. He wants desperately to make amends as best he can. Conversely the villains are menacing and sadistic in the extreme, maybe a little stereotypical, but a classic good guys versus bad guys scenario involving big money, a casino and controlling mobsters, with some quite graphic scenes. A chilling look at how those who want absolute power and control consider people as disposable. 

 

I like G M Ford’s writing style very much, employing humour and compelling story lines but I did miss Leo’s ‘team’ of misfits helping him out on this one albeit they did make a brief appearance at the tail end of the story. Patrick Lawlor really performed this story, great characterisations and he gives the narration just the right amount of emotional impact.