Buy Back Review
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Author Brian M. Wiprud clearly has a knack for developing unusual characters. On the pages of his novels, you won’t find walking, talking clichés. You won’t find any average Joes, either. You’ll find somewhat delusional house cleaners (like Morty in Feelers) or big, well-dressed, Scrabble-playing, tantric-breathing men with dubious connections to a bunch of crooks and conmen—like Tom Davin in Wiprud’s latest, Buy Back.

When he was young, Tom dreamed of being a famous artist. Now he plays a very different role in the art world—not as an artist or a curator or even a collector but in Corporate Recovery. His job is to return stolen paintings to museums—by any means necessary, no questions asked. Then he takes his cut from the insurance company and waits for the next goofball to steal some more goodies.

After Tom’s ex leaves him deep in debt and caring for four high-maintenance cats, he’s forced to run his own insurance scam: hire some guys to steal some valuable paintings, then return them and collect his cut. But the job doesn’t go as smoothly as planned—and the paintings are stolen by three other crooks. Now Tom’s got to figure out what happened to the paintings and get them back before the neighborhood loan shark comes to collect.

As Tom searches for answers, though, his contacts come under fire from a determined sniper—and Tom starts to worry that he could be the next target.

From the first action-packed chapter to the last, Buy Back is a crisp and clever adventure. The story is well-crafted and imaginative—and guaranteed to be unlike any crime thriller you’ve read before. It’s constantly twisting and turning, too—though Wiprud drops plenty of hints along the way, to help you figure things out long before Tom does.

Even more fascinating than Wiprud’s twisting and turning whodunit, though, is his cast of unusual characters. There are puppeteering loan sharks, well-connected barbers, amorous catnappers, and restaurant-working crooks in all shapes and sizes—and they all live in one unassuming neighborhood in Brooklyn, which they share with the ever-present hipsters and stroller-pushing moms.

And then, of course, there’s Tom Davin, the tough guy who plays Scrabble with his masseuse and worries about his karma and his ex-girlfriend’s cats—when he’s not getting shot at or chasing snipers, that is. Like Morty from Feelers, he’s an entirely unique character—with an unusual profession, a complex personality, an interesting outlook on life, and an unmistakable voice.

Even if the story weren’t quick-witted and thrilling and loaded with can’t-catch-your-breath action, Tom alone would make Buy Back an entertaining read. Mix in an unusual blend of Brooklyn crooks and a comical caper, and you’ve got a perfectly quirky thriller.

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