Monday, April 09, 2012

22. The Ultimate Rush by Joe Quinn

This ended up being an okay story, but the telling was so layered with endless consumer culture signifiers and jargon that I almost didn't make it to the end.  I guess the characters in this book represent some apex of pre-Occupy San Francisco alterno-hipsters.  I wasn't in the Bay Area in the late 90s and if the heroes of this book resemble in any way youth culture there at the time, I'm glad I wasn't.  Most of the first quarter of the book is the edgy coolness of the protagonist's (Chet Griffin) lifestyle being displayed for the reader.  He's a rollerblade messenger! He's living on the financial edge!  His roommate is a hacker with cerebral palsy!  His best friend is a hot asian boarder who dresses up like a schoolgirl but with devil ears!  He has a huge snake!  He has all these special complex tatoos!  It never seems to stop.

The story, such as it is, starts when Chet gets a special job making these super-tight deliveries to odd places, some clearly connected with a criminal operation.  He digs deeper and then accidently opens a package and all hell breaks loose.  He goes on the run and with the help of his friends has to figure out what the operation is and bust it in order to save themselves.  There is a ton of action and the author doesn't worry about adhering too close to reality, which while sometimes giving a reader pause, ends up being the fun choice.  A lot of cool stuff goes down, but again it's all so burdened with explaining why and how its cool (as well as all the cool things around what's going on), that it rarely gives much of a thrill, until the very end.

As I read this, I realized that my impatience may be due to my complete lack of interest in this period.  The 90s were pretty fucking lame.  Grunge, X-games, shitty internet, movies hadn't gotten cool again yet. Bleh.  I also recognize that a lot of the 70s crime books I read have a lot of lifestyle markers, but they tend to know their place in the book and be kept limited so that the action and ass-kicking can take center stage.  Not the case here, sadly.

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