RANDY RUSSELL – Hot Wire. “Rooster” Franklin #1. Bantam, paperback original; 1st printing, May 1989.

   “Rooster” Franklin is basically what you call a car thief. His home base is Kansas City, on both sides of the border. The first 60 pages pf Hot Wire, his first adventure worth recording, are very slow going — Rooster, who tells his own story, is not anywhere near as streetwise as he thinks he is, and his life, frankly, isn’t very interesting. I almost bailed before any action started.

   But at the 60 page mark, or thereabouts, the story finally kicks into high gear. And what the story is is a heist novel. A bank robbery. The Big One. A huge step up for a former-to-be car thief. But as in all fiction — whether novels or movies — heists, no matter how well planned, seldom go well.

   Not only does a take of an estimated $400,000 go missing. but three deaths occur as a direct result, two of them innocent and one of these Rooster’s best friend. Revenge is what he wants, and revenge is what he gets.

   This may sound like a good basis for one heck of a heist story, but it isn’t. The last two killings are at Rooster’s own hand, and believe me, there is no finesse involved in either of them. Rooster’s mindset is on revenge (and the money) but does it occur to him that everything that happened after the robbery went bad is on his own shoulders? In a word, no.

   There were four more books in the series, but even if (as I suspect) Rooster’s further adventures into crime solving were an ex-car thief, I’m going to say that no, they’re not for me.