Thursday, July 11, 2013

Trouble Is My Business

Trouble Is My Business, by Jay Flynn
No month stated, 1976 (incorrectly states "1967")  Leisure Books

This was the second of two novels Jay Flynn wrote about tough San Francisco street cop Sgt. Joe Rigg; the first one was Blood On Frisco Bay. And like that previous book Trouble Is My Business is for the most part a listless affair churned out by a drunk and disinterested author, a book that ranges from endless digressions on inconsequentialities to super hardcore sex scenes straight out of Penthouse Letters.

Flynn constantly refers back to the events in Blood On Frisco Bay, so one would do well to read that first before reading this book. At any rate Rigg’s life is mostly the same, he still works the docks in San Fran and still only wants to be a street cop, despite having been “technically” promoted to a lieutenant after what went down in the previous book. We also learn that Rigg is best buds with “The Cowboy,” aka the new President of the US, clearly implied here as being Ronald Reagan (he’s a stern Conservative Republican who used to star in Westerns), which I found interesting given that in reality Reagan wasn’t elected for another four years.

Really though the book is almost a complete retread of Blood On Frisco Bay, but if anything even more listless and unconcerned with forward momentum. At least that previous book livened things up every once in a while with violent action scenes that had no relation to the main plot. Trouble Is My Business doesn’t even have that, instead focusing more on Rigg’s mundane daily life. But yet again like that first book, this one starts off with a bang, as Rigg witnesses a cold-blooded murder in broad daylight, on a busy street, as a dude with a Bowie knife hops out of a car and chops off a lawyer-type’s hand, snatching the guy’s attache case and squealing off in his car before anyone can react.

After discovering that the murdered man, Blackton, was a CPA who handled hush-hush deals for wealthy clients, Rigg just sort of moves on with his life…instead of delivering a taut, blood-soaked thriller, Flynn instead thinks that we want to hear all about the new litter of puppies just delivered back on Rigg’s Trumpy houseboat! Along with that he gives us more scenes with Annie Dale, Rigg’s now live-in girlfriend, who actually has much less narrative time in this one. The puppies are courtesy a dog the Cowboy gave to Rigg, knocked up by Croc, Rigg’s massive Irish Wolfhound “partner.”

Eventually the book takes on the tone of a police procedural, just a really boring one. Rigg goes around tracking clues and meets up with various of Blackton’s clientele. Flynn here works up a massive land-buying conspiracy scheme that almost makes the plot of Chinatown seem easy to follow, but it all fizzles out into a basic scheme – namely, Cuba-funded counterfeit US dollars. It takes forever for Rigg to discover this, though, but in the meantime he’s too busy getting orally pleasured by the daughter of one of Blackton’s clients and a super-hot and super-horny female Treasury agent who is working undercover as the man’s maid.

I should mention here that all the women in this novel are super-hot and super-horny. Flynn has what appears to be an obsession with three-ways time out, with Rigg constantly being propositioned by two girls at once. And if he’s too tired or spent to handle them, they’re more than happy to go at it with each other! I would imagine though that all this is just a recurring joke…serioulsy, there are numerous scenes where the girls will want to do Rigg, who sends them away because he’s exhausted or needs to work, and Flynn will go into great graphic detail on how the girls will just flop on top of each other and go at it.

But if it’s an in-joke, it gets old quick. It got boring fast to see how one-dimensional the women were. I understand and even appreciate the fact that these old pulp novels trade on the conceit that women are mostly there just to look sexy and screw the protagonist…and in fact I want to bang my head against the wall when I read all the lame, whiny-assed complaints about ‘70s novels you will encounter in reviews on the internet, where modern-day losers will bitch about the “misogyny” and “racism” of 1970s novels. You get the idea that these people would be better served watching shit like Dancing with the Stars or How I Met Your Mother instead of venturing into the choppy waters of ‘70s pulp, but I digress. Long story short, even I got a little annoyed with how the women in Trouble Is My Business were only there to proposition Rigg or to go down on one another.

Meanwhile the main plot drags on with little (non-sexual) action. Other than one hilariously arbitrary scene early on where Rigg stops a convenience store robbery, the only action sequence Flynn delivers is one right after Rigg’s been blown by the undercover maid and the client’s daughter, as someone pulls off a driveby shooting at the client’s house. Rigg, naked, chases after and fires at the car with a heavy-caliber pistol. But that’s it, that’s all we get on the action front, until the climax of the book.

And again like the previous book, Flynn kills more time with the unwelcome presence of the Cowboy, who despite being the President just heads on over to SanFran to hang out with Rigg on his Trumpy! And returning with him is Tina Holmes, Rigg’s callgirl friend who is now the Cowboy’s main squeeze (she informs Rigg with delight that she’s finally gotten the Cowboy to give it to her via rear entry, by the way). And guess what, Annie and Tina are immediately propositioning Rigg, only to go down on one another when he tells them he needs his rest.

Even the (anti)climax is a recursor to Blood On Frisco Bay; not only does the main villain turn out to be a gorgeous foreign lady, but Rigg is again called in at the last second so as to stage a half-assed raid on the villain’s just-discovered lair. In this case the lady is Catarina, a beautiful Cuban woman who is the ex-wife of Blackton’s land-developing client; the entire attache case mystery turns out to be a MacGuffin, as the counterfeit US currency was the true evil here…apparently Blackton had photos of the printing plates in his attache case, and Catarina wanted those photos back. Instead her goons killed Blackton, thus getting Rigg on the case.

Flynn does deliver a fairly good fight between Rigg and the Bowie-wielding maniac, who actually appears in maybe five pages of the book. (I was under the impression that Trouble Is My Business was about a knife-wielding “sex killer,” so I guess I must’ve confused it with some other sleazy ‘70s cop novel.) But the finale is over and done with posthaste – and Catarina, the mastermind behind it all, gets maybe three pages narrative time and is only introduced into the text toward the very end. She has none of the memorable (or sadistic) qualities of the female villain in the previous book.

This was it for Joe Rigg, whose adventures ended with this second volume. Though honestly one could argue that his adventures never even really started – these two books were snoozefests for the most part, not even saved by the XXX-rated stuff. However it must be said that Flynn actually can write, especially when it comes to dialog, as he has a particular gift for funny lines. But man if he’d only combined that writing skill with a good, forward-moving plot, he really would’ve had something.


RJR said...

Flynn's 5 "McHugh" books--MCHUGH, ACTION MAN, etc--are much better.
He actually CAN write when he's interested.


Kurt said...

Enjoyed Pronzini's essay about Flynn you provided the link to. Thanks for posting.

Reech said...

Even the cover is a retread with the dame being stolen from McGinnis