The Junior Bender Series by Timothy Hallinan
Meet Junior Bender, a professional cat burglar who is more than an ordinary thief. His intelligence and skills have made him the go-to guy for crooks with problems.
Do you want to know who stole your stolen painting? Then Junior is the person for the job, if you can put up with his wise-cracking remarks and moral streak (yes, a burglar can have a moral streak). He follows his own code, such as only stealing from the rich. As Junior notes, “They’re the only ones with anything worth taking. What are you going to steal from the poor? Aspirations?’’
Junior has a big heart, which means he doesn’t always go along with the demands of his clients if he thinks the job goes against his code. He also dearly loves his teenage daughter Rina, who he doesn’t get to see as much as he would like because his ex-wife doesn’t approve of his lifestyle or career path.
Author Timothy Hallinan introduced his intriguing, funny protagonist in the first Junior Bender mystery, Crashed. The novels take place in the seamy underbelly of Los Angeles. Junior moves from one seedy hotel to another every month so he can stay one step ahead of people looking for him.
In Crashed, Junior is hired under duress (meaning, blackmailed) by Trey Annunziato, the head of a notorious mob family, to find out who is sabotaging the pornographic movie she is making. The star of the movie is Thistle Downing, a washed-up, drugged-up young woman who had been the darling child star of a hit television series. As Junior tries to figure out who is behind the problems on the movie set and gets to know Thistle more, he becomes more and more troubled about the whole movie venture. He is helped out by his old friend, Louie the Lost, another crook with a big heart.
The Junior Bender series has three more books after Crashed: Little Elvises, The Fame Thief, and Herbie’s Game. These mysteries are quick, humorous reads filled with colorful characters and a memorable protagonist.