"Fans of the crime caper will rejoice" that Linwood Barclay is back with the hilarious follow-up to his "riotously funny and irreverent"* debut, in which paranoid pop Zack Walker plotted to transplant his city-savvy wife and two teenage kids to the tranquillity of the burbs-where planned communities prevail and fathers rest easy. Well, not quite...and now the Walkers have moved home only to find themselves living in the precarious crosshairs of urban sprawl once again, and Zack can't help but be worried-really worried-that just around the corner lurks the presence of some really bad guys. Zack is back, and much to his family's relief, the work-at-home science-fiction writer has left the house to take a job as a features writer for the city paper. But now that Zack's incessant plotting can no longer be hatched from the comforts of his own home, he must be ever more vigilant to outwit the evil at large, whether in the suburbs, the city, or his own imagination.
Reporter Zack Walker, worrier, bungler and reluctant hero, has moved from the suburbs back to the city (unnamed, but the generic metropolitan background suffices) with his wife, Sarah, son Paul and daughter Angie, in Canadian author Barclay's winning second comic caper (after 2004's Bad Move). The Walkers aren't really dysfunctional, but they're close enough to the edge as they cope with various pressures: 16-year-old Paul's flirtation with drinking; college freshman Angie's admirer, who may be a dangerous stalker; and the transportation convolutions necessary in a one-car, two-school, two-job family. Zack tries to solve this last problem while also working on a feature story that has him accompanying a PI on a stakeout for a smash-and-grab gang. He avoids hassling with a car dealer by going to a police auction, but the car he gets is no bargain. When his PI friend is attacked, Zack races to the rescue. And when some nasty folks target his family, Zack pulls out all the stops to try to remove the threat. This cleverly executed mystery includes both long-term setups and well hidden surprises. Agent, Helen Heller. (May 31) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 24, 2006
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Excerpt from Bad Guys by Linwood Barclay
"So, what are you asking me ' Harley said. ' Are you asking me for drugs If you want drugs, there are drugs. There ' s alprazolam ' that ' s your Xanax generic ' or lorazepam; you ' ve got your diazepam and ' '
' Diaza-what '
' Diazepam. It ' s not a cooking spray. It ' s Valium. There ' s a huge list of antianxiety prescriptions out there, some better than others, some downright dangerous. We don ' t use phenobarbitals anymore, too addictive, sometimes fatal. There ' s various herbal remedies, if you ' re into that sort of thing. Or, I don ' t know whether you ' ve considered something like this before, but you could just lighten the fuck up. '
Harley ' s not your average doctor. He ' s more of a friend, with a medical degree, and a successful practice, and an examining room, which I happened to be sitting in at this moment, somewhat under duress. Harley and I were buddies back in high school, then lost touch a bit while I went to college for an English degree and he went off to medical school. ' Hey, ' I would say to him when we occasionally ran into one another, ' just what kind of job do you expect to get with a medical degree '
Years later, he became my doctor.
This appointment hadn ' t been my idea. It had been my wife Sarah ' s. And ' idea ' is probably the wrong word. ' Ultimatum ' would probably be a better one. ' Go see Harley, ' she said, ' or I ' m going to call a divorce lawyer. Or smother you in your sleep. '
The threat about the divorce lawyer didn ' t worry me that much. Sarah has a low opinion of the legal profession, and would probably choose sticking with me over engaging the services of one of its members. But the smothering-me-in-my-sleep thing, that seemed within her range of capabilities.
' The thing is, ' Harley continued, leaning up against the paper-covered examining bed, ' there ' s a lot of shit to deal with in life, and sometimes that ' s just what you have to do. Deal with it. You ' re not the only one with a teenage daughter, you know. Mine ' s twenty-two now, seems to finally have her head on straight, but two years ago she was too busy boffing some out-there art student to study for her midterms. The guy did a show of sculptures made from raw meat. You had to go early. '