Friday, August 23, 2013


By Jack Batten
Thomas Allen Publishers

Crang is back and he’s as gutsy, smart-mouthed, and clever as ever.

It’s been a few years, twenty it says on the book flap, since the Toronto criminal lawyer known by one name, Crang, graced the mystery bookshelves. And the hiatus hasn’t tamed him in any way. Who else would impersonate a judge, break into his client’s house, and then do it again?

He has a reason. Crang’s latest client has taken off before a court date for sentencing, stiffing him for $75,000. Good reason for the above-mentioned actions, I’d think. When he finally does catch sight of this grow-op fugitive, Grace Nguyen, she’s deeply embedded in another get-rich scheme and not about to place nice and follow Crang back to court.

As he follows the trail through a mobster’s home and to a ceramics museum, Crang is aided by various wise cracking sidekicks: from the slightly sleezy Maury, who is a retired independent burglar; his live-in companion, Annie who has a lot better sense than Crang, most of the time anyway; some elderly gents with a penchant for sleuthing; and various colleagues from the legal world in which he travels.

Along the way, someone dies, surprisingly not Crang, schemes are thwarted, and justice prevails. Somewhat.

If you like your crime with an edge that’s tinged with sarcasm and smart remarks, the Crang mysteries by Jack Batten are for you. There’s a lot of jazz info, one of Crang’s passions, that’s sure to delight music lovers. And the reader takes a tour of Toronto, comparing neighbourhoods, and indulging in some tasty meals. There’s a lot going on in Take Five along with a very smart mystery.

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