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Shaker: A novel by Scott Frank

Shaker: A novel

by Scott Frank

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SHAKER begins with a strong earthquake in Los Angeles. There are several strong aftershocks that disrupt life in the area but earthquakes are not the only cause of those disruptions.
Roy Cooper, the central character is a hired killer from New York, sent to LA a week after the first quake. His assignment is to kill a man he doesn’t know for reasons which he also doesn’t know. But that’s his job and he’d done it before. The hit goes as plan, but his plans change very quickly afterwards. While he is walking back to his rental car, parked a few streets away, he realizes he doesn’t remember where he parked it. While wandering around looking for it, he sees four gangbangers mugging and beating a jogger in an alley. He watches for a short time, then decides he should just leave the scene. It was not as easy as he thought and he got shot in the process. The jogger turned out to be a mayoral candidate An onlooker in an apartment above the alley manages to capture most of the episode on his cell phone (without bothering to call the police) and the video goes viral. Roy is declared a hero.
While Roy is recuperating in the hospital, he sees the video on multiple television stations. That is the last thing he wants. He’s been invisible for many years and there are people who would like to find him and pay him back for what he did to them.
Kelly Maguire, an LAPD detective, had been assigned to an area of LA where the gangs were the most active because knew the neighborhood, spoke fluent Spanish, and was able to establish a good rapport with many of the residents including some connected with gangs. Unfortunately, she had a bad temper as well as an alcohol problem and was pulled out because of the way she treated a suspect. But they need her help even though they didn’t want to admit it.
The plot includes insight into the juvenile justice system, city government, the police department, criminal groups, and baseball, as it continues towards identifying victims and capturing criminals. It frequently provides backstories of how the characters got into their current situations. Often, it was a serendipitous event or an event escalating because other people were involved. For example, Roy had been sent to a juvenile facility when he was twelve years old following the murder of his father.
The story has many twists as the characters try to escape their situations. There is a lot of violence, some of it a bit graphic, and an overuse of profanity, some of it realistic, some of it not. There are also some unnecessarily short chapters.
This is Scott Frank’s first novel. He makes good use of the skills he honed in writing films “Little Man Tate” and “Dead Again” and adaptations “Get Shorty” and “Out of Sight.” ( )
  Judiex | Jan 28, 2017 |
A very involved novel that follows the story of a hitman from New York who goes to Los Angeles to do a job, but gets caught up in a mugging gone bad. Hard to explain beyond that premise, but the pacing is strong, as author Scott Frank has also written for television/movies. Lots of interesting characters -- police, gangs, baseball, politicians, and more! An enjoyable read that keeps you guessing. ( )
  Randall.Hansen | Apr 26, 2016 |
A varied assortment of mostly unlikable characters populate this dark, sometimes whacky script-for-a-movie tale in which a contract hit man witnesses a murder and is subsequently proclaimed a hero for apparently trying to stop the execution. The violence-filled story moves from crisis to crisis as the various characters are kept busy ducking the bullets that always seem to be flying around but there are moments, particularly in the revealing backstories, that the author outdoes himself in creating heart-wrenching tales of deception and abuse.

Readers might well expect a story set in Los Angeles to include the obligatory earthquake, and the one that strikes here is a real doozy, but the story relies too heavily on having aftershocks strike at the most propitious moment in order to rescue a character from one of those pesky no-way-out situations. ( )
  jfe16 | Feb 22, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385350031, Hardcover)

Meet Roy Cooper, stoic, unassuming “errand runner” for various New York criminals. Roy arrives in Los Angeles to shoot a man named Martin Shine a week after a powerful earthquake has knocked out cell service, buckled the freeways, and thrown L.A. into chaos. Roy doesn’t know who Shine is or why he has to die, but he does his job and does it well. Except for one thing: after the hit, Roy can’t find where he parked his car. Wandering the streets of North Hollywood, he stumbles upon a jogger getting mugged and beaten by four young gangbangers. Despite his attempt to simply put his head down and walk away, Roy winds up in the middle of another killing. Things get more complicated when the murdered jogger turns out to be a controversial mayoral candidate. Roy himself is shot twice, hospitalized in critical condition, and mistaken for a hero when a local resident leaks a video that goes viral. 

Now meet the rest of the cast of characters, including Kelly Maguire, a disgraced LAPD detective with an anger management problem and strange feelings about L.A.’s newest hero; Science, the teenage gangbanger/shooter, who needs to keep Roy quiet about what he’s seen; Mayor Miguel Santiago, who finds himself facing accusations that he’s just had his opponent whacked; Albert Budin, Roy’s onetime mentor and one of the scariest, creepiest characters in recent crime fiction; and myriad criminals, politicians, and cops who all need Roy to disappear—preferably forever.

Finally, meet Scott Frank, who has created not just one of the most entertaining novels of the year but also one of the most surprising. This first novel is fun and funny as well as moving and textured, nuanced and powerful. Shaker is the debut work of fiction by a major new storyteller.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 31 Dec 2015 11:27:28 -0500)

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