The son of legendary film director Preston Sturges takes an evocative Raymond Chandler spin through crime-haunted Los Angeles with his first novel, which introduces problem-solver Dick Henry. Henry, who rides around in his '69 Cadillac Coupe de Ville convertible, backed up by sideman Enrique Montalvo Rojas and the Laurel Canyon Irregulars, cuts straight to your problem. A deadbeat tenant? First, he asks nice. Then muscle comes into play. But when porn king Artie Benjamin hires Henry to find out who's sleeping with his wife, it gets personal. The shortcut specialist learns his own latest affair is with the very same femme fatale. His work often puts this modern-day Marlowe into "an unprofessional, biblical rage." ("Moses did not come down from the mountain and file a grievance report. He smashed the evil he beheld.") The bad guys perhaps could be a trifle badder, but the writing is a pleasure to read. More Southern California shortcutting, please, Mr. Sturges. (Feb.)
This book is a blast! Wry, mysterious and, most of all, telling in the ways of desire and deception, Shortcut Man is one hell of a debut. p.g. sturges has proved himself a worthy successor to Chandler.”
"This is an assured and diverting performance, with an ending that should impress even the most seasoned fan of hardboiled detective stories. You thought every twist ending in the noir bag had been taken out and used up, p.g. sturges seems to be saying as the book rushes toward its final page. Well, get a load of this."Washington Post
"Shortcut Man is a glorious read: powerful, clever, suspenseful and filled with enough dark humor and shady characters to satisfy the most rabid noir fan, and convert those who aren't already."Associated Press
"Shortcut Man joins the wisecracking, bone-breaking tradition of California noir stretching from Chandler to Hammett to Robert Crais's latest Elvis Cole novel. . . A gripping read."The Boston Globe
Lessons learned from reading this debut crime novel: (1) Whether when serving a subpoena or just living, it's best to start out pleasant. With that in mind: this novel is offered as the first in a series so there is opportunity for improvement. (2) The plot revolves around Dick Henry, the "Shortcut Man," i.e., someone whose job is to sort things out; he's hired to find out who's been sleeping with the wife of porn movie producer Art Benjamin. The culprit is close to home. End of, and extent of, story. (3) It takes heroic doses of chutzpah to flesh out that slim plot to novel length. (4) One trick to spinning out a story is to repeat favorite phrases. If it's good the first time, it's even better the third, plus the phrase might grow on you. Thus, "Craftsman homes" and "Moe Greene shot" appear and reappear. (5) It's handy to have a recognizable name. The author is the son of 1940s movie screenwriter/director Preston Sturges, who rates a couple of mentions here. VERDICT There's more to gripping a reader than attitude, which this novel has in spades. While we await further developments, this initial outing is not recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/10.]—Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO
The son of legendary filmmaker Preston Sturges debuts with the fast, funny, nostalgia-laden tale of a hero who slices through Gordian knots.
Dick Henry is the guy you go to when you're snarled in red tape. Need to evict a tenant who won't pay his rent, or get rid of a squatter who won't fold his tent, without going through months of messy litigation? Henry's your man. And he's not just a hired thug, either. He's happy to help Betty Fraiden protect her father, Franklin Tillman, from the Filipino woman he wants to bring to America to marry, even though she probably doesn't exist except as a vacuum for Tillman's savings. And he's available to confirm porn producer Artie Benjamin's fears that his wife is cheating on him. His very first day on the job, he discovers that Judy Benjamin is indeed conducting a torrid affair with Henry, who's known her as Lynette the private-airline stewardess. But his further discovery that Judy, aka Lynette, has been a lot less private with her favors than with her coffee and tea leads the promising setup down a familiar, not very interesting road of multiple betrayals with violence, as Judy keeps swearing eternal loyalty to men about to die at her bidding. Will Henry be among them? Of course not.
This freelance vigilante fantasy is the first of a crime series most likely to appeal to movie buffs who wish the punchy dialogue from vintage film noir could be spiced with some serious sex.
Sturges has an ample supply of authorial ingenuity, which he distributes throughout the novel…this is an assured and diverting performance, with an ending that should impress even the most seasoned fan of hardboiled detective stories. You thought every twist ending in the noir bag had been taken out and used up, P.G. Sturges seems to be saying as the book rushes toward its final page. Well, get a load of this.
The Washington Post