Crime Always Pays: A Screwball Noir is a fun, yet complex novel, which definitely falls under the heading of screwball, but not always 'noir'. There are many of the characters you would expect of that genre though, including cops and robbers, some crooked and some with hearts of gold, there are mysterious dames and shady lawyers, and a crazed wolf thrown in for good measure.
Burke's novel starts some time after a confrontation between many of the main characters, leaving some injured and all feeling like they are owed something, usually money, by one or more of the others. The large cast of characters each get their turn in the spotlight, with the narration jumping from one to another, often in the middle of an event. While this does create tension and interest, until I had a clear grasp of the characters and their relationships I found it confusing and at times frustrating.
Burke does an excellent job of quickly outlining each character and then slowly revealing further details about their past, their motives and giving hints at important aspects of their personalities which come to bear in future. The dialogue is humorous and generally realistic but becomes over the top at some points, much like many of Guy Richie's films, which seems to be a common and accurate comparison. Even though many of the characters are amoral, violent, or just greedy, and each has reason to hate one or more of the others, they are all easily likeable and by the end of the novel you want all of them to get what they want, even when that seems impossible.
There were many aspects of Crime Always Pays which I greatly enjoyed and only a few things which I found distracted me from the story and characters. If this is your 'go-to' genre than you may find the jumps between characters, the complex web of relationships, and the over the top gangster slang easier to get past than I did. Once I overcame these very minor irritations I became engrossed in the events of the novel, the characters, and the questions posed by many of the characters regarding morality. The unique mixture of a fun cops and robbers caper and the complex plot and character relationships makes this novel highly enjoyable and worth a read, or even a re-read.
Title: Crime Always Pays: A Screwball Noir
Author: Declan Burke
Style: Humour / Crime / Road Trip
Date of publication: March 30, 2010
Can be found at:
Smashwords (Kindle, ePub, PDF, RTF, LRF, PDB, Plain Text & Online)