Thursday, October 26, 2017

Book Review: 'Seasoned To Kill' by G.J. Prager

G.J. Prager is a name to watch. THE LESSON PLAN was his first novel published in 2011 and was so successfully written that it suggested we had a new burgeoning talent among us! In that novel Prager introduced a main character of the unforgettable type. On the surface that novel seemed to be a first person narrated story shared by a frustrated Robert Klayman who is unemployed, living from paycheck to paycheck by serving as a substitute teacher in Santa Monica, California to pay the rent in a shambles of an apartment he shares with his faithful cohort dog Homer, unattached to a significant other and ever obsessed with physical attractions/encounters, whose dream it is to become a Private Investigator. THE LESSON PLAN served as volume 1 in the ROBERT KLAYMAN P.I. SERIES.

G.J. Prager outdoes himself with his followup to LESSON PLAN: his inimitable P.I. Robert Klayman is even more of a strong cinematic personality in SEASONED TO KILL - happily we discover that this is Volume 2 in the ROBERT KLAYMAN P.I. SERIES. The great news is that Prager is promising more to come. Move over Ian Fleming.....Now in SEASONED TO KILL (VOLUME 2) Prager summarizes the new direction: ‘Robert Layman, former Los Angeles private investigator, is a wanted man. He’s out of prison after doing time for gunplay on his last P.I. job. Blacklisted and broke, he falls in with a gangster and travels to Odessa, Ukraine, t move stolen art out of the country under the eyes of the Russian mob. Klayman is offered a bonus along with it – a hit job on a suspected war criminal. Each step of the way Klayman is pursued by a ruthless syndicate, chasing a dream that’s soaked in blood at every turn.’

Yes, this is a solid and well-constructed story that once started makes the reader stay with it until the end (even an all-nighter in this reader's case!). But what the too brief synopsis does not reveal is a writer who happens to be one of the best to describe the life of his chief characters milieu. In the author's words: 'Life can play clever tricks on us mortals who wait desperately for dreams to come true, realizing only too late that it's an end game and much too short at that. Reaching middle age without accumulating a formidable bank account can leave a man bitter and emasculated, ruminating on every lost opportunity that ever came his way. Nothing I ever did made me money; lady luck's a discriminating bitch that won't invite just anyone up to her room.' And in addition to be a painter of landscape and figurative canvases as well as anyone writing today he maintains an extraordinarily fine-tuned sense of humor, no matter how desperate a situation he is describing. Readers will attach themselves to this social malaprop and see the madness of the world through his distorted vision, identifying with those contemporary frustrations and maladjustments he somehow survives, and stand and root for him all the way: there is a dollop of Robert Klayman in each of us - at least in Southern California. Think of his circle: Christopher Isherwood, Charles Bukowski, Raymond Chandler, Matt Groening, Evelyn Waugh - and add a comedy vein of gold. Welcome back, G.J.Prager! Grady Harp, September 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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