This one was described as John Wick, but with a burrito (not a puppy).

An action novel for fans of John Wick, Demolition Man, or Die Hard.

Maxwell Cain, also known as “Bloody Rain Cain,” is a cop fed up with the murderous hooligans who control the streets of San Pajita, California.

After years of public service, Max is fired for executing too many dirtbags, and he seeks solace at his favorite taqueria. When his comfort burrito is sullied by the careless actions of brutal thugs, Max finally snaps. What begins as an argument over a ruined lunch quickly spirals into a hurricane of blood and revenge.

Max is joined in his fight by the gorgeous Kate Valentine, a baker with an itchy trigger finger. As the two rush into battle against an entire criminal organization, they are hunted by the relentless terror of the seedy underworld: Johnny Legion.

This book is designed to feel like watching a classic 80s or 90s American action flick.

Welcome to Maxwell Cain: Burrito Avenger.

This one isn’t … quite as insane as it first appears.

Kind of. Sorta. It’s complicated.

To begin with, unlike the deep, complicated events and emotions behind “Puppy = killing spree,” the burrito in this instance is less the puppy, and more the last straw. In a city that is as corrupt as Chicago, only with an extra layer of scum at the top, Pan Pajita’s police force is so overwhelmed that the police “can’t respond to every little shooting.” But no one at the top minds, because the criminals pay “fines” (usually a portion of the take from the crimes) that goes into the private coffers of public officials.  Okay, fine. It could also be Dirty Harry’s superiors in LA.

This one opens with one of the best opening lines since Jim Butcher’s “The building was on fire and it wasn’t my fault.” Adam’s is “Maxwell Cain had killed dozens of men. In fact, that was kind of the problem.”

It even has a little setup tag that sounds like an 80’s film trailer. You can just hear the narrator read “In a world where one man…” etc.

But after a day where Maxwell Cain (I’m sure that it’s a coincidence that Max Caine sounds like Matt Payne, honest …. especially the parts that go into bullet time) kills six bank robbers, then is fired for it, all before lunch, he’s pissed off and hangry (No, I didn’t misspell it).

When some random gangbangers hipcheck Caine into spilling his burrito, he whips out the cheesey one liner (“maybe I’ll be a teacher.” The next chapter is called “Lesson Plan”, and the joke concludes with “Class dismissed”) and goes to beat up some thugs. When the thugs need to be put down, it turns out that they were off to pay a mafia bag man — who still wants his payoff. That confrontation spirals into a war with an entire mafia family, who assume he’s a hit man.

With a few breaks to pause for something strange, like character moments, this is basically a 250 page running shootout. The scene that best exemplifies this is where a gunship blasts a monorail train off the track, causing the car to land on top of a hotel roof, which eventually crashes through every floor to land into an electrified pool, into which Max Caine Sparta-kicks a thug while declaring “THIS! IS! SAN PANJITA!”

Did I mention that there’s a bit of hat tipping in this book? I’m surprised that Max doesn’t end up losing his shoes while walking through broken glass. There’s every setpiece shootout ever scene in a film — shooting up a mall, a hotel, a public art exhibit (the Pieta re-imagined with lizard people — kill it with fire!), run and gun car chase, a hotel, a mobster’s home, a train, “the docks,” the standard warehouse, and a few other places thrown in. And he double-wields every chance he gets. We have Jackie Chan’s baseball wielding thugs in suit and tie. He has John McClane’s habit at yelling at gunmen (An RPG tears up the street, he yells, “Do you have any idea how much it costs to fix a pothole that big?”). At least one man killed during a poker game had aces and eights (subtle).

Did I mention that the mafia enforcer dresses in white and carries a golden desert eagle — meaning that he’s the man with the golden gun?

And like John Wick, Max Caine, cars are his only weakness — getting hit with them. That, and the running gag that every time he sees a burrito and reaches for it, he summons more gunmen.

Then there’s the new stuff — like “gunfight selfies” (I can see that being a thing) a running gag of shopping while they work, and this is the first Catholic action hero I’ve seen since William F Buckley JR wrote spy thrillers…. and not written by me. Comparing someone’s home to a serial killer den. And the prescient “City council declare it was unfair for cops to get protective gear when civilians don’t, said we needed to even the odds.”

Most of the combat is very well done and highly detailed. All the action is tightly paced. Though after a while, even Adam stops detailing the path of every bullet and discusses how everyone is just firing on automatic and spraying faceless gunmen with bullets. (If you ever wonder why I suck characters into melee combat a lot, this is why.) To be perfectly fair, Adam does try to describe every minion who lasts more than a few lines, though that’s a lot of bald or bearded men after a while, and I wondered when there would be other descriptors used. Though that’s probably just “one writer nitpicking.”

And the one liners. Oy, the one liners. To fit in more one liners, Max Caine talks to himself. A lot.

Some examples?

After his lunch is ruined and one of the killers is run over: “Lunch hour traffic will really kill you.”

“I’m the best cop in the department.”
“You’re the most violent cop in the department.”
“That’s what I said.”

“I don’t want water. I’m thirsty for blood.”

While surrounded by gunmen: “Well, yippe ki yay.”

This feels like a Dirty Harry movie starring Ahhnuld, meets Falling Down, but with John Wick level stunts.

Anyway, I fully recommend it in all of its utterly insane glory. Buy Maxwell Cain: Burrito Avenger right here.

And while you’re at it, you can pick up one of my latest Saint Tommy novels.

 

About Declan Finn

Declan Finn is the author of Honor at Stake, an urban fantasy novel, nominated for Best Horror in the first annual Dragon Awards. He has also written The Pius Trilogy, an attempt to take Dan Brown to the woodshed in his own medium -- soon to be republished by Silver Empire Press. Finn has also written "Codename: Winterborn," an SF espionage thriller, and it's follow-up, "Codename: Winterborn." And "It was Only on Stun!" and "Set To Kill" are murder mysteries at a science fiction convention.
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