I'm dating myself horribly when I tell you that one of my earliest crushes was David McCallum's character Illya Kuryakin on The Man From U.N.C.L.E (1964-1968). Cultured, brilliant, mysterious and oh, so handsome; how could I resist?
But now I have another way to view McCallum: crime fiction author. This week saw the publication of his first novel, a crime thriller titled Once a Crooked Man (Minotaur Books, January 12, 2016).
Things go elaborately and spectacularly wrong when the Bruschetti brothers––Max, Sal and Enzo––decide to retire from the crime business, and New York actor Harry Murphy accidentally overhears their plans for murderously cleaning up some loose ends. Harry decides to warn one of the brothers’ targets, and the more the brothers try to clean things up, the messier they get. Not just for the brothers, but for Harry, for the beautiful and feisty British police agent whom Harry teams up with, and for various compatriots of the Bruschetti brothers, their other family members and law enforcement.
I’d have liked to see a bit more character development for Harry and the other main characters, and there is a sexual plot point late in the book that struck a big-time false note for me, but on the whole I found this to be an entertaining read and a winning first writing effort by McCallum.
You might think that the category of crime fiction written by actors on very high-rated TV shows would be small, but I do know that McCallum isn't alone in it. Check out Hugh Laurie's The Gun Seller. Sure, he played the wildly popular Dr. House, but he's a heck of writer too.
Note: Thanks to Minotaur for providing a free advance reviewing copy of Once a Crooked Man. Versions of this review may appear on Amazon, Goodreads, BookLikes and other reviewing sites, under my usernames there.
Image sources: davidmccallumwiki, TV Guide, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.