Author(s): Anthony Burno
Series: Gibbons and Tozzi #1
Published by Diversion Books on 01/28/2014
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Bad Guys, the first book in the Gibbons and Tozzi thriller series, introduces FBI agents Mike Tozzi and Cuthbert Gibbons, odd-couple partners and dedicated mob-busters. Hot-headed Tozzi goes renegade, and Gibbons is pulled out of retirement to stop him. Together they uncover a secret crime family headed by Richie Varga, a convicted mobster pulling the strings from the safety of the witness protection program. When Tozzi gets involved with Varga’s sexy ex, the fur really starts to fly.
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Bad Guys is an old-school detective thriller featuring an odd couple like paring of FBI agents out to stop a secret mafia family. While the book doesn’t give us anything we haven’t seen before at least what it does it does competently.
A rouge agent out for justice and his partner trying to bring him back from the brink is about as cookie cutter as you can get. And while both characters are like a how-to instruction for making cops in a thriller novel they are also both very likeable. The loyalty Gibbons and Tozzi show each other is endearing and the interplay between them is usually pretty entertaining.
The plot itself moves forward at a brisk pace as it checks off the cop vs. mafia checklist. Plot twists layered on top of each other. Check. Tons of New Jersey jokes and references. Check. Low-life crooks. Check. Once again however, while the book works down its checklist the plot is fairly enjoyable. The use of a crime lord operating out of witness protection isn’t new but it still really works for this book. The criminals are menacing enough to feel like a real threat to the characters. The violence is intense but not over the top. A mole inside the FBI that the heroes have to ferret out is an old trope, but the way they go about it really works for the novel.
I will say that this is the first book in a series feature the main Gibbons and Tozzi and, while I didn’t hate this book, there is little chance I will seek out the further adventures of the two FBI agents.
Had this book come out in the mid-1980s it would have felt cutting edge and intense. While it is still a decent read, 30 years later it feels like fiction-as-nostalgia. That isn’t a bad thing however. If you read a lot of crime fiction and mysteries in the past then this is a book might manage to stretch past mediocre into something pleasant, if only for the feelings of past books it dredges up.
Review by Travis Starnes