De Luxe by Lenny Bartulin

De Lux

a review by Nalini Haynes

Jack is a bookstore owner with a history of ‘known association’ with the criminal underbelly. living a life that is anything but de luxe. While Jack is just trying to get on with his life and sell some books, Ziggy Brandt, a major crime boss into construction, pulls Jack into a mine field of relationships and corruption. Jack’s ex, Brandt’s daughter, Claudia, is engaged to Duncan Beaumont, an ASIC investigator. Shortly after Brandt has an eviction notice served on Jack with a carrot of a nice apartment elsewhere in Sydney, Claudia comes calling on Duncan. Beaumont then waylays Jack on his way home, beats Jack up and then presses charges for assault. The police show an interest but don’t actually push the point for reasons unknown.

De Luxe is intentionally film noir, with an Australian contemporary flair. I recently re-watched Be Cool, so throughout De Luxe I could hear this theme music. Jack is part Chilli Palmer, part Martin Weir from Get Shorty. Ziggy barely shows throughout the book although the story revolves around his Machiavellian machinations; his role is that of Chilli as mastermind.

This is one of those stories for which you have to suspend disbelief for enjoyment. The plot is fast paced and unrealistic; in the real world there would have been either a short, brutal finish or a longer stint in gaol for most of the parties involved. The characters are shallow and unbelievable, with most of the women in clothing described in detail for vicarious enjoyment of those that way inclined. All of this is good, De Luxe is about having fun and never pretends anything else.

De Luxe is highly recommended for fans of Get Shorty, Be Cool and other contemporary comedic takes on film noir. But in books.

Previously published in Dark Matter issue 5, September 2011.  This blog has been pre-dated to reflect the date of original publication.