Story Summary: Meet Nick Valentine-Former cop. Current PI. A man with his ear out on the streets, Styrofoam cup cocktail at his lips, a pocket full of pills and chainsaw in his trunk. That’s not a euphemism.  A literal chainsaw. Valentine doesn’t have a ‘problem’, he’s perfectly happy staying as inebriated as possible as much as he physically can. He’s been called in by the chief of police to take a look at a suspicious ‘suicide’ of a bank manager. Also, meet Valentine’s dog, Frank Sinatra-Adorable. Fierce. Football humper.

Add in Telly and Bruiser. They robbed a bank. In a bread truck. Things don’t go as planned and Telly, a tweeker, now has a trunk full of cash and high ambitions about getting high. A payload like that could by a lot of a good time.

Then comes Big Tony-a fat, disgusting man with hopes and dreams about strippers and a nose like a hoover. He’s runs in the right circles to know things about things. Like a bank robbery.

Mr. Parker knows about the bank heist because it’s his bank heist, and now it’s all gone south and could lead back to him. He wants the money and he wants Telly dealt with and who else to handle the situation but his loyal muscle, English Sid and No Nuts.

Even being “on the case” of the bank robbery, a bag full of money is a hard thing for Valentine to resist, especially with Big Tony and their burglar friend Doyle hot on the trail of the cash. Sid and No Nuts accidentally discovering the money first doesn’t deter them at all, either. It was a big take, and everyone sees the cash as their ticket out of St. Louis and into a new start. Valentine is only marginally invested until English Sid and No Nuts come after him for the dough-and hurt Frank. After that, all bets are off.

I must say, this book was one hell of a ride. I never thought a book could encapsulate so well the cluster-fuck element of Snatch, but McBride did just that with Frank Sinatra in a Blender. It started off with a bang and didn’t slow up the entire way through; I’d find myself reading late at night, waiting for the next lull, the next new chapter, and finally just pass out from exhaustion hours later.

I truly enjoyed Valentine as a character. If you’ve read my previous reviews you can probably notice a theme of ‘Bad guy’ heroes and Valentine was no exception. While reading, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop-eventually, his Oxycontin and power drinking would get him in trouble. Eventually, he’d see the ‘error’ of his ways. Eventually, he’d clean up and go back to the force.  So when the book ended and Valentine remained the accomplished addict and morally ambiguous man with a flair for violence, he became a little bit of a rock star. With Frank involved, there was a definite change of intensity and purpose in Valentine’s actions but he was so defined (and in love with) his pills and booze that to lose that element would have change the character irreparably, and not for the better, in my opinion.

Also, I really dug the switch-up in view points throughout the novel. In the beginning, I expected the entire story to be first-person from Valentine but I never once felt lost as McBride zoomed in on Telly, Sid, or Tony before handing the reins back to Valentine. Being in the main character’s head and outside of everyone else felt perfect, almost like it allowed the reader to love the terrible person Valentine is while seeing everyone else for who they are, as an observer. The pace felt full-throttle throughout but not in an exhausting way, more so that you held your breath with every additional scene, waiting for the carefully constructed house of cards to come crashing down in a wave of violence, and it didn’t disappoint. That is really what reminded me of Snatch throughout the book; when McBride set so many parties up to compete for one prize, without any one side being fully aware of the other, the end result could only be a violent, deadly clash.

One of the elements that made this book so much fun for me to read was the dark humor and gratuitous violence throughout. The fact that everything, to Valentine, is peachy keen; the sheer bulk of strippers, booze and drugs;  the mindless violence, animal sex, and dildo theft, all make me love this book a little more. Bearing that in mind, I could see how this might not be up everyone’s alley, but I never felt like anything was over-the-top or out of place; there was definitely no ‘purely for shock value’ moments. All of these dark bits just felt like they belonged in McBride’s St. Louis.

Frank Sinatra himself played an interesting part in the story. (Okay, for the record-I didn’t know what I was expecting when I read the title, but still, McBride…not the pooch!) I’m a huge dog lover and Frank is the tenacious kind of mutt we all love, however his purpose seemed much deeper than that. To me, it seemed as if Frank represented Valentine’s humanity. He was a device to prove the PI was still human, still capable of love, and still worth being loved. Maybe as a stand-alone character Valentine has bad-boy, good-time appeal but Frank was his tether back to earth and his endless affection and concern for Frank redeems him to a degree. And once Frank gets involved in the drama, we see Valentine truly commit to the plot like never before.

All in all, I loved the book from start to finish. I laughed as soon as I saw the dedication, and ended laughing as well (I might need therapy). I’ll definitely be following McBride’s career and hope to see more from him soon.

Last, huge thanks to Sabrina Ogden for sending me a copy…I guess just because she rocks so hard. Thanks, doll!

If you’d like to check out Frank Sinatra in a Blender:
You can buy it on Amazon

Also, check out his blog, Got Pulp?

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