"A truly riveting tale of deception, murder and psychological suspense. Part psychological thriller, part noir, Diamond has accomplished the incredibly difficult task of deriving true suspense from the battle for supremacy going on within [the narrator's] own mind. The Bottom Line: One of the year’s best thrillers." - BestThrillers.com
"This is no light whodunit, but a complex psychological piece that pits the efforts of Detective Lou Eisenfall to solve not just a crime, but the roots of a relationship that descends into madness... Diamond cultivates an engrossingly dark vision of a protagonist whose alter ego takes over in many different ways. The build-up of psychological suspense and the evolution of evil is truly compelling. To Hell with Johnny Manic is very highly recommended for crime readers who like their stories introspective, brooding, and psychologically astute." - D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
"For lovers of crime fiction, there can be no more seductive catnip than a caper about a compromised antihero desperate to change his life for the better, the unhappily married femme fatale who is going to make that exceedingly difficult, a detective who is suspicious of both of them, and a rising body count... Diamond nails an evocative, nihilistic, hard-boiled style that fans of Jim Thompson and the like will admire... A feverishly readable psychological noir." - Kirkus Reviews
"Filled with high octane suspense, chemistry, action, intrigue, and deception, we find ourselves focused on the dangerous and powerful pairing of John Manis (the Johnny Manic of the novel’s title) and the beautiful Marilyn Dupree. Intuitive detective Lou Eisenfall has a bad feeling about these two volatile spirits coming together, particularly since Johnny’s wild lifestyle implies there’s a lot of darkness going on under the surface. What results is a powerful and engaging mystery that changes gear at every turn, charging towards a dangerous and disastrous conclusion for everyone involved... a gripping read that will keep you in your seat from cover to cover." - Readers' Favorite (5 stars)
"A tough, twisted tale of distorted dreams and evil plans going wrong in every direction. Anti-hero Gantry is likeable enough, trying in his blundering way to do the right thing while falling deeper into a hole of his own digging. The cinematic plot is thoroughly engrossing, with tortuous turns and all the wrong characters showing up at all the wrong times. Manic’s work assignments with a varied cast of colorful customers provide a few breaks in the unnerving, rapidly escalating scenario of deception piled on deception. The cleverly conceived aspect of dual personality - Manis slowly gaining sway over Manic - adds a fascinating layer. Diamond manages all these threads deftly, with subtle humor and a wealth of forensic and personal detail." - Feathered Quill Book Reviews
A fugitive embezzler in need of a fresh start gambles on assuming the identity of a presumed off-the-grid video game maven.
For lovers of crime fiction, there can be no more seductive catnip than a caper about a compromised antihero desperate to change his life for the better, the unhappily married femme fatale who is going to make that exceedingly difficult, a detective who is suspicious of both of them, and a rising body count. The book's title alone evokes distinctive film noirs past like Johnny Allegro, Johnny Eager, and Johnny O'Clock. But this is no warmed-over pastiche. Tom Gantry is the kind of hard-luck case for whom "every place I walk into lately turns out to be the wrong place." But then the thief meets John Manis, a reclusive former software god to whom Gantry bears an uncanny resemblance. One sailboat "accident" later and Gantry gets the opportunity for a second chance with Manis' passport, wealth, and freedom. After a "slow westward drift through the casinos of New Orleans and Las Vegas," Gantry buys a young entrepreneur's business in a Napa Valley town and sets himself up as the Computer Kid, servicing the tech needs of the affluent residents. Two things muck up the works: Manis' unceasing voice in his head ("What are you up to this time? Even I don't get it") and Marilyn Dupree, whose husband treats her cruelly. When Gantry meets the ravishing Dupree, "the fuse" is lit. Their passionate affair does not go unnoticed by Lou Eisenfall, a local cop, especially when the story takes some deadly turns. The novel's central conceit does strain credulity: Certainly the re-emergence of a long-missing person of Manis' stature would go viral and unmask the imposter. But all is forgiven when Diamond (Impala, 2016, etc.) nails an evocative, nihilistic, hard-boiled style that fans of Jim Thompson and the like will admire ("She saw something in me and I saw something in her, and whether or not it was something good, something was better than nothing"). A screen adaptation would be manna for character actors portraying Gantry's intriguing customers (how about Blythe Danner as the Lemonade Lady?).
A feverishly readable psychological noir.