Small Crimes - Dave Zeltserman Joe Denton, ex-cop, ex-cokehead, ex-arsonist, is released on early parole after having spent only seven years in a jail instead of doing 20 years in a maximum security prison. He had slashed the face of the district attorney who stumbled on him during a robbery attempt and then he had tried to set fire to the office. Joe wants nothing better than to get his act together and be left alone. Unfortunately, the corrupt sheriff who had kept Joe out of maximum security in return for keeping quiet about the crimes they had committed, now wants Joe to kill a prospective informer or the DA who ever since his disfigurement has made a crusade of trying to root out all the corruption in the community.

Since the narrator is totally unreliable, one never quite knows the truth of the story as he recounts it, nor his motivations. Joe is abandoned by his parents, his ex-wife, his former colleagues, everyone. The police are all corrupt, he is manipulated and betrayed at every turn. We try to feel sorry for him, yet one wonders all the while of his true motivation. Does he really want to support his children, does he really like Charlotte, does he really want to stay off cocaine. He’s ostensibly a very bright guy who has gone horribly wrong. Yet how much of it is self-delusional.

Very hard to put down. I read this because I had enjoyed Zeltserman’s Julius Katz charming stories. This book is very different but very good. He is definitely on my list of not-to-miss authors.