by Mark David Zaslove
Series: Tales of a Badass IRS Agent, #1ARC, 219 pg.
Aperient Press, 2018
Read: August 13 – 14, 2018
I’m not sure I can go this book justice with a hand-crafted synopsis, I’ll just copy and paste from Zaslove’s site:
|Death and Taxes follows Mark Douglas, an ex-Marine turned IRS agent, who, along with auditing the weird and the profane, also spearheads weekend raids with his locked-and-loaded gang of government-sanctioned revenuers, merrily gathering back taxes in the form of cash, money order, or more often than not, the debtor’s most prized possessions.
Things turn ugly when Mark’s much-loved boss and dear friend Lila is tortured and killed over what she finds in a routine set of 1040 forms. Mark follows a trail dotted with plutonium-enriched cows, a Saudi sheik with jewel-encrusted body parts, a doddering, drug sniffing, gun-swallowing dog named The Cabbage, a self-righteous magician with a flair for safecracking, a billionaire Texan with a fetish for spicy barbecue sauce and even spicier women, and an FBI field agent whose nickname is “Tightass.” All of which lead to more and bloodier murders – and more danger for Mark.
Enlisting his IRS pals – Harry Salt, a 30-year vet with a quantum physical ability to drink more than humanly possible; Wooly Bob, who’s egg-bald on top with shaved eyebrows to match; Miguel, an inexperienced newbie with a company-issued bullhorn and a penchant for getting kicked in the jumblies – Mark hunts down the eunuch hit man Juju Klondike and the deadly Mongolian mob that hired him as only an angry IRS agent can. There will be no refunds for any of them when April 15th comes around. There will only be Death and Taxes.
This is hyper-violent (not that filled with blood and guts, really — there is some), a lot of guns, bombs, more guns. Sometimes played for comedic effect, sometimes it’s the good guys vs. the bad guys. Sometimes, it’s a little of both. It never got to the overkill point for me, probably because this felt more like a cartoon than a “realistic” thriller.* What was overkill for me was the hypersexualization of every woman under the age of sixty. I didn’t need to hear that much about every woman’s physical appearance — there are more gorgeous women with perfect (sometimes surgically enhanced) bodies in this guy’s life than an episode of Miami Vice.
But man, is this funny. There are sections — sometimes a sentence or two, sometimes several paragraphs long — that are the literary equivalent of a shot of espresso, they are so taught with action, cultural references, and humor that you just revel in them. This reminds me a lot of the John Lago Thrillers by Shane Kuhn — I think Kuhn shows more discipline in his plots and characters, but on the whole, these two are cut from the same cloth. The same energy, a similar style, similar sense of humor — and frankly, that stuff is catnip to me. I think the plot got a little convoluted, a little confusing — but it was worth working through.
Am I planning on reading Tales of a Badass IRS Agent, #2? Yeah, I will be keeping an eye out for it. This is a heckuva romp, and will entertain anyone who gives it a shot.
* Really, what thriller is realistic?
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion, which you see above.