“Full of jaw-smacking fistfights, rip-roaring car chases, and gun-blazing gang battles, Poughkeepsie Shuffle delivers a mighty thump of thrills and spills, and carloads of mean-tempered sons of bitches.”
Dietrich Kalteis, the author of the notable books Triggerfish and Zero Avenue, is fast becoming one of Canada’s top crime writers. Prior to writing novels, he was a short story writer, contributing fifty or so tales to literary magazines. You can find a couple of good ones in the archives of the Lowestoft Chronicle.
Dietrich’s debut novel, Ride the Lightning, won a bronze medal at the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards for best regional fiction, and since then he’s gone on to publish five books with the big Canadian publisher ECW Press.
His books have garnered a number of fine reviews from publications like Kirkus Reviews, The Globe and Mail, and Publishers Weekly.
I was lucky enough to review his previous novel, Zero Avenue, for the Lancashire Post. You can read that review here.
His latest work, another standalone novel, is a crime caper set in Toronto in the mid-1980s. It features a pack of fierce lowlifes all shooting for the high life and is centered on a somewhat likable fifty-year-old ex-con named Jeff Nichols.
Soon after Jeff is release from Don Jail, having served an 18-month stretch for stealing cars, he is persuaded by a former prison inmate to work for Ted Bracey, the no-good owner of a used car lot in Toronto. What Jeff doesn’t tell his long-time girlfriend, Ann – who has stayed with him while he served his prison sentence in the hope that they will one day have kids and own a home – is that the company is a front for a criminal operation covertly transporting automatic weapons over the Canadian border.
Ignoring Ann’s pleas for him to get a regular job and adjust to suburban life, Jeff buys into Ted’s promise of easy money and rapid promotion and convinces himself that his ‘days of bum deals and scratching a living’ are over. His high-risk job offers no salary except a twenty-five percent commission on sales, the threat of getting shot or dismembered, and the excellent potential for a return to prison.
Ted’s operation involves buying cars at auctions in upstate New York and employing a crew in Poughkeepsie to hide pistols in sealed bags in the gas tanks, and weld cells under the chassis of the cars, packing them with Uzis. They then put the cars on a trailer and ship them north.
Given a $2500 cash gift, his own office, an automatic pistol, tailored suits, and allowed to steer the boss’s 36-footer yacht, for Jeff there is no turning back. Flush with cash and on the rise, he becomes firmly rooted in Ted’s organization and powerless to escape an inevitable decline into violence, bloodshed, savagery, and a perpetual life of crime.
My review of Poughkeepsie Shuffle is featured today in the Lancashire Post and syndicated to 20 newspapers in the UK. The full review can be found at the web link below and elsewhere.