A Felonious Monk Mystery
by William Kotzwinkle
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Pub Date 14 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 07 Mar 2023
Award-winning and bestselling author William Kotzwinkle is back with the second in the darkly comedic Felonious Monk series featuring Tommy Martini, a Benedictine monk with an anger management problem. Felonious Monk was praised as “amiably satirical” (Washington Post) and “a whiplash adventure” (Wall Street Journal).
Coalville is on fire—from below. The old mines are burning, and everyone has poison gas in their brain. Maybe that’s why the town is so corrupt. Now that he’s a Benedictine monk, Tommy Martini never wants to see the place again—hell-raisers there hold a grudge till they die, and he’s on their wish list. But a girl he once loved has gone missing, and his best friend from childhood has been murdered. Among the living is a shy girl from Tommy’s past, who wants to help. Together, they learn the secret of the elephant’s graveyard, and it’s not in Africa.
At the heart of Coalville is Parade Square, with plenty of pigeons, drugs, and child prostitution. It’s the new small-town America, where Dionysus is dancing once again. William Kotzwinkle’s insight into this paradigm shift is shot through with the humor he is famous for, and the result is a spicy brew, a bloody martini—just one sip may keep you up all night.
A Note From the Publisher
“This wry, extremely funny, character-driven novel will remind readers of classic L.A. noir…Kotzwinkle is sure to win new fans with this one.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Kicks major ass…A fitting memorial to the wisdom of the hero’s late grandfather: ‘I’m always angry. It saves time.’”
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Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 4 members
I I read Bloody Martini by the unpredictable and whimsical William Kotzwinkle, courtesy of NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing , in exchange for an honest review.
Somewhere between college graduation and retirement, I carelessly lost Kotzwinkle. Two of his previous novels, Dr. Rat and the enchanting Fata Morgana, were among my favorite books in the 1070s. Then, somehow, I misplaced him, and until Bloody Martini came along, I didn't even know he was still alive and writing. I was delighted to discover that he is alive and well and writing amazing books.
I was completely captivated and thoroughly absorbed with Bloody Martini. It is a great story and skillfully written about Tommy Martini , a small town ex-cop who, seeking peace and forgiveness, becomes a Benedictine Monk in Mexico. Well, a monk with benefits actually, as he comes and goes as he pleases, and hardly behaves like one. His benefits include wanton women, fast cars, alcohol and murder. He lives an interesting life.
Sometimes, too interesting.
A girl he once loved has gone missing. A few people in his home town want him dead. The son of a mafioso, he inherited a fortune and a reputation he doesn’t want. He boxed professionally, and ended up killing a man in a bar fight. His best friend from childhood left him a phone message asking he take care of his girlfriend, right before he was murdered. Then, to complicate matters, there is a shy girl from his past who would be only too excited to help him.
Returning to Coalville from the Benedictine Monastery in Mexico, Martini discovers Thomas Wolfe was right, you can’t go home again. Nothing has changed. Crooked cops, crooked politicians, misplaced loyalties and an overwhelming greediness. By novel;’s end, Martini has confronted or been confronted by it all, returning to the monastery to once again face his own personal demons.
I didn;t know what to expect when i began to read Bloody Martini, except that it sounded interesting. I mean, come on, a monk as a lead character?! The novel caught me by surprise. Kotzwinkle is in complete control, keeping the story moving along, leaving us always wanting more. I sincerely hope Bloody Martini finds its fans in an already crowded marketplace. This book soars and is well worth reading.
William Kotzwinkle writes like no one else. This book carried his signature eye for the quirky, with enjoyable plotting and interesting characters. Recommended reading for followers of mysteries and literary fiction.
Tommy Martini was sent to a monastery in Mexico by his gangster grandfather after he accidentally killed someone in a bar fight. In Felonious Monk, the first entry in this series, Tommy had to leave the monastery to travel to a place a lot like Sedona AZ to deal with family issues. While there, other craziness arose that challenged his violent tendencies and Benedictine spirituality.
In this sequel to Felonious Monk, Tommy once again has to leave the monastery (after once again saving Mexican children from cartel bad guys) because his past has once again come calling -- this time, he goes back to his home town of Coalville PA to find out who killed his best friend and locate his friend's missing wife, who happens to have been his own first love. And once again, other craziness arises that challenges his violent tendencies and Benedictine spirituality.
Much of the narrative becomes a series of encounters with various figures from his past who are in dire need of redemption, as well as some new figures also in need of redemption -- in some cases that redemption being sending them off to find their well earned damnation in hell. And of course all of this revolves around Tommy's own conflicting view of his own potential for redemption or damnation.
In other hands, that might have been a weakness, but for William Kotzwinkle, redemption vs. damnation (or perhaps in Tommy's case being forever trapped in the purgatory between those two states) is exactly the point. The setting may be classic noir, mystery, mafia, or whatever, but the real landscape is spiritual, philosophical, a bit surreal, and of course humorous. But the story line is there if that's all you want.
Tommy's home town resembles Kotzwinkle's -- he grew up around Scranton PA and set Jack in the Box (aka The Book of Love) in the same area. Indeed, descriptions of Coalville conjure up images from Jack in the Box even though it's been close to half a century since I read it. Having a home in NE PA not far from Scranton, Coalville reminds me a lot of depressed and depressing cities and towns that I pass through that make me wonder who lives there, who would even want to live there.
I'm thrilled for a second time to be able to thank Goodreads for giving me an advance reading copy of Kotzwinkle, a favorite of mine in my youth after discovering The Fan Man way back when. I've wondered since reading Felonious Monk a couple of years ago what the author has been doing since his last adult novel fifteen years earlier -- in an interview just published yesterday, he says he has written three novels during that time, one ready for publication and two in need of more work.
Bring them on, Bill! We missed you and are happy to have you back.