13 Million Dollar Pop: A Frank Behr Novel by David Levien (Doubleday; $24.95; 304 pages)
“I know these streets/ I’ve been here before/ I nearly got killed here…/ Something always/ Keeps me coming back for more.” Bob Dylan (If You Go to Houston)
David Levien’s 13 Million Dollar Pop is, in many ways, a typical crime/mystery/thiller-type tale. Short chapters move the reader along at a brisk pace, action scenes are piled upon action scenes, and a number of engaging plot twists and turns make for intrigue along the way. However, what separates this book from others of its kind is that it is more than an action tale. The main characters are developed at a deeper level than most books of this genre, and the reader actually gets close to and begins to care about what happens to them.
Ex-Marine Frank Behr works for a security guard agency in Indianapolis, and when he’s asked by a co-worker to switch detail, he nearly takes a bullet. Behr is unable to let the wheels of justice turn on their own terms and takes matters into his own hands. While in pursuit of the facts behind the attempted hit, Behr encounters a multitude of shady characters, including politicians, assassins, real estate agents, lobbyists, hookers, and porn pushers.
Throughout his quest for the truth, and the killer (who turns his attention to Behr in an attempt to clean up a job gone wrong) Behr must balance a delicate personal life that includes a pregnant girlfriend. Few are left standing when the dust settles.
To author Levien – “Job well done.”
Dave Moyer is the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.