“Laundry Man” by Jake Needham hits like a fist

JNLaundryManJake Needham creates a world of his own in crime fiction. Imagine a man standing in the Bangkok night, listening to the thunder in the distance and a young girl’s voice singing a sad love song, while puffing a Montecristo. “The storm hit like a fist,” he writes. It’s that combination of being in a strange city and powerful sentences that give “Laundry Man” a strenght that comes on top of the story. Like some extra ingredient to make sure the crime story doesn’t become stale. So you got mood and ambiance…  and then next thing you know there’s a corpse falling on your shoes when you open your Volvo’s door. That’s Jake Needham allright: jumping straight ahead from a sultry, introvert moment to action-packed fiction. “Laundry Man” is the second Jack Shepherd novel I read and the first in the series – and I like them for what they are: modern times, film-noiresque stories with pace and wit. Yes there’s a Bogart-feel to the central character, and Needham has a touch for referring to famous vig screen movies, not as an easy way out but quite fitting. Obviously “Laundry Man” is about dubious international finance, misty bank activities and criminal organizations, and the author knows what he is doing. That makes this book more than a crime novel – it’s also a bit of an education. Albeit a shocking one. And: with steamed rice, as a newspaper reviewer has noted about the Jack Shepherd series. I’d like to quote the author himself as I did in the opening of this review: “Laundry Man” sort of hits like a fist; a swift, oriental blow in the face. I had the occasional hit myself, stuff I didn’t see coming. In this genre, that’s a good thing. See what you think.