Felonious Monk by William Kotzwinkle [5/10]

Anyone who has even vaguely followed the four-decade career of William Kotzwinkle (and I’m only a dipper, having read half a dozen novels) appreciates how eclectic his output has been. Uniting all the strands has been a hard-boiled, razor-humor style. “Felonious Monk” is yet another Kotzwinkle innovation, a noir thriller about a monk! When Brother Tommy, at peace in a monastery that blunts his short-fuse temper, is bequeathed assets by a mob-friendly crooked priest, his life is upended, aswirl in a world of vying crooks, cult fanatics, and voluptuous women. As physically strong as he is blunt of temperament, Tommy navigates the open world once more while trying find moral equilibrium on his own terms. The author’s prose is bullet-blunt and his sense of pithy dialogue is undiminished. I must admit I grew weary of a roiling plot with little point beyond putting Tommy through his paces, and Brother Tommy himself remained an enigma to me. That said, Felonious Monk burns with a weird intensity and is a cracking read.

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