Mr. Hooligan Review
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For most of his life, Riley James has felt indebted to the Monsanto Brothers. Back when he was a kid, they protected him and treated him like family—something he never really had. But now, twenty years later, Riley wants nothing more than to move on—to stop handling the Monsantos’ drug drops and start leading a normal life with Candice, the woman he loves.

With some crooked politicians breathing down his neck, Riley agrees to do one last job for the Monsantos, hoping that he’ll make enough to pay some bribes and keep his bar up and running. After he’s picked up the latest shipment of cocaine, however, his boat is hijacked, and the drugs are stolen.

Needless to say, the Monsantos are furious. And although Riley has been a loyal employee for decades, they begin to doubt him. Knowing that his life is in danger as long as the Monsantos are unhappy, he agrees to help them get their drugs back. But, after that, he’s determined to be gone for good.

Of course, the very set-up of Mr. Hooligan suggests that everything’s going to go very, very wrong. After all, no one-time thug (no matter how well-meaning) can just walk away, right? That would be way too easy—and it definitely wouldn’t make for a thrilling story.

But although you’ll suspect from the start that things are about to fall apart for poor Riley James, you’ll still be captivated by his story—and you’ll still be surprised by the twists and turns that it takes. It’s suspenseful and cleverly-crafted—and it’s sure to keep you guessing until you reach the story’s unexpected conclusion.

What really makes Mr. Hooligan stand out, though, is its complex characters. Each one has either something to hide or some kind of secret past—from Riley’s girlfriend, Candice, to his friend and partner, Harvey. Even Riley’s old confidant, Sister Pat, a former nun, has a party animal past. And while her dear friend, Roger, may be wasting away in Belize City’s Caribbean Hospital, he, too, has an unexpected history (and some interesting stories to tell). They tend to travel in the grey areas—the disgraced nuns, the jealous friends, and the drug-runners who are wracked with guilt—and that only makes them more genuine, more human.

All of the characters are carefully, intricately developed—especially Riley. Like the others, he’s complex and conflicted—a good man who’s spent the last two decades trying to make up for his not-so-secret dark side. Now, he’s finally trying to escape the world of which he became a part when he was just a boy—when he felt he had no other choice, nowhere else to turn. Despite his dark past and his shadowy present, he’s the kind of character that you can’t help but like—and, as you’ll read, you’ll find yourself drawn into his story, hoping that he’ll be able to escape the Monsantos’ grasp and create a new life away from the guilt and shame of his past.

Mr. Hooligan is an unexpected read—from its Caribbean setting to its well-developed characters to its riveting conclusion. It’s noteworthy noir from Shamus Award winner Ian Vasquez.

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