Caleb Rush, nicknamed Crush, is a big-ass hulk of a bartender, bouncer, and “immovable object” who works in an LA bar called the Nocturne. “Rush had hurt a lot of martial-arts teachers,” so if you care to mess with this guy, you’d better either have a gun or a passel of gangbanger chums all jumping him at once. Young Amelia Trask watches Crush in action and learns he is Bulgarian, or maybe Mexican or Italian “or something.” Soon a dude in a Lamborghini tries to snatch her in front of the bar, and suddenly Crush is entangled in Amelia’s life. Gail, a “taekwondo master ‘slash’ bartender,” and Crush’s sort-of brother, Zerbe, are colorful characters adding spice to the plot. Rush had once protected Amelia’s father, Stanley, a “filthy rich, arrogant” thief “who a whole lot of people probably wanted dead” and who “probably stole loose change from his left pocket when his right pocket wasn’t looking.” Now Amelia wants Crush to protect her from the Russian Mafia, and despite his toughness, he may get himself killed in the process. Some great action scenes result, such as the one involving a GTO bursting out of a warehouse elevator. This brief novel crackles with sharp dialogue—“if you can’t lie to your wife, who can you lie to?”—and a witty narrative voice that put the reader in mind of Elmore Leonard. It’s not better than Leonard, but it’s surely in the master’s league. The author has won two Emmys and several other prestigious awards and already has a Crush sequel ready to roll titled Heart Attack & Vine.
This one could make it to the big screen, but don’t wait for the movie. Buy the book. It may be the first of a long series.