Sunday, June 3, 2007

Big Numbers by Jack Getze

Full disclosure: I’ve known Jack Getze for around five years. He’s a dear friend for whose writing career I’ve been a big cheerleader. I can’t even pretend to be unbiased about this book. Heck, I’m even mentioned in the acknowledgements. “Lou Reads” isn’t meant to be a forum to promote my friends’ books, but I just got back from dropping in at Writers Retreat Workshop, where I caught up with a bunch of folks, many of whom have published books since I last saw them. So I’ll most likely be tackling some Friends-of-Lou’s books in the coming weeks.

I’m still a little unclear as to what a “full-boat grin” is. I just Googled it and came up with a blog entry about Big Numbers. Indiana Jones has his whip and Luke Skywalker has his light saber, but for Austin Carr, the hero (or antihero) of Jack Getze’s first book, Big Numbers, the “full-boat Carr grin” is his weapon of choice.

(Is it full-boat, as in a fishing charter captain’s grin when he’s happy to have a full boat? Or full-boat, as in the grin’s so big it looks like a boat? Full boat almost sounds like a poker term.)

Big Numbers opens with Carr in trouble. Big trouble. On a boat duct-taped to a fishing pole with a 600 lb giant tuna at the other end of the line kind of trouble. Mr. Blabbermouth apparently wants to kill Carr with a bit of panache. Just as Carr’s about to go sailing over the rail, we flash back to the events leading up to his big nap with the fishies. And no surprise—it’s hard-boiled thriller, after all—it’s a redhead.

Carr is a down-on-his luck Jersey Shore stockbroker who’s $58K behind on his child support payments. His wife has issued a restraining order until Carr can make the payments. In the meantime, he’s living out of a rusty camper in the parking lot of Luis’s Mexican restaurant—a convenient back yard for a man who likes his tequila shots doubled and in the morning—when he finds out that his “monster” client is terminally ill and has a red-headed knockout girlfriend who would rather not wait for her inheritance. Trouble ensues.

One can only hope that Carr has hellagood health insurance with Shore Securities. He makes no fewer than four trips to the hospital during the course of the book.

Big Numbers is funny and dark. Getze has a ton of fantastic zinger lines that make me so proud to know him. I have a soft spot for assholes, and Carr is a narrator who is both conflicted and decidedly wrong-headed (and downright shitty) at times. And while to some degree he’s almost a caricature (Getze cites Bugs Bunny and Vince Vaughn as inspirations), more often his serious and nearly-fatal flaws make him feel real.

It’s a quick read, a perfect beach book. I read the last half in a single sitting. And—I say this with no bias at all—Big Numbers was published by a relatively small press and the book is not getting the attention it deserves. It’s easily as good as most of the series mystery/thrillers that my family devours by the dozens. The book looks deceptively like the self-published crap you find in local bookstores. It’s a shame; what’s inside is first-rate stuff.

Visit Jack Getze's website.


Jersey Jack said...

It's poker, you're right. Full-boat is another term for full-house. You're usually grinning when you finally show it to the table.

M said...

Ah! Just a lucky guess on my part! I like it. I see it much better now that I know what it means. Thanks, Jersey Jack. You're the best! :)