Some crime novel protagonists drive an old beater, some drive a hot Mustang and some just take the subway. In Adam Abramowitz's debut, Bosstown, ponytailed bike messenger Zesty Myers seems to have a GPS map of Boston in his head as he weaves his Fat Chance through the chaotic streets of the city. One hungover morning, a Buick rams into him on Boylston, smashing his slick bike, knocking him unconscious and sending the contents of his torn delivery package into the street--a deluge of Grants and Benjamins. He slips out of the hospital ER before "they stick me in a hospital bed, wake me every couple hours to shine a light in my eyes, and then sic their bill collectors on me." When stubborn Zesty launches his own investigation into his "accident," it gets gnarly in a hurry.

Abramowitz gives his young narrator hero the mouthy jive of an old school Southie hip to rare Boston rock bands and closed down clubs. Zesty's father is an aging hustler who once ran a back-room poker game for dirty cops, small-time pols and courthouse trolls. His mother was a hippie firebrand put away for a robbery and homicide in her radical youth. His brother, Zero, runs a semi-legit moving company and is on-call muscle. As Zesty and Zero try to sort out the story behind the money and their parents' shady pasts, Bosstown zips along like a good old-fashioned Beantown caper. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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