I came across The Bouncer by David Gordon in a very interesting way. I was processing books one day when I discovered this title. Initially, I didn’t think much of it until I saw one of the advanced praises on the back. It used the words “comic-thriller.” I had never seen a book described in that way before. Now that I’ve had the chance to read it, it was worth it to a certain degree.
The Bouncer revolves around an average Dostoevsky-reading, Harvard-expelled strip club bouncer with a highly classified military history named Joe Brody and a cast of colorful characters. These include Gio Caprisi – Brody’s best friend, strip joint owner, and head mafioso who dresses like a female dominatrix – and Donna Zamora – a FBI agent and single mother who’s stuck manning the bureau’s information hotline. These and others collide in a variety of situations like a crackdown on Gio’s strip joint, a back-road gun show intervention, and a perfume heist.
At first, I thought the story would be more like ha-ha funny because the novel tended to promote its comedy side. However, the more I read it, I realized that it had more British-like humor, as in dry and sarcastic. I didn’t mind that because it immediately made me think of films like the Ocean series due to their blend of humor, crime, and thrill. In fact, I think a lot of the jokes could play out better if the novel was adapted into a movie. I hope it does since the book feels very much like a film, especially the fight scenes. The final one between Brody and Adrian – a domestic terrorist – went on so long that I thought that it would outlast the one in The Quiet Man.
I also enjoyed how fast paced it was. A lot of the chapters were pretty short and filled with action. This is especially good for people who are reading it before they go to bed.
A lot of the characters are developed when needed. I do not mean that they are one-dimensional. I simply noticed that the characters were only developed when the plot called for it. For example, in the beginning, it is revealed that a minor Korean character is getting married soon, but he winds up dead within the next 5 chapters after getting involved in the gun heist. If this was a standalone, I would have a problem with this, but I don’t because Gordon released a sequel to The Bouncer called The Hard Stuff in 2019, so I expect more character development.
Now when I mentioned that I thought that it was worth it to a certain degree, the main reason why I said that is because some of the characters and subplots got in the way of the main story. For example, the whole subplot of Gio dressing up as a female dominatrix with his wife suspecting him of doing something shadier was far more unnecessary than intended. It took up a few more chapters than other subplots, and there was no payoff, which irked me the most. It’s like Gordon is trying to slam almost everything crime movie trope into the book. I hope The Hard Stuff scales this back.
All in all, The Bouncer by David Gordon was mostly worth it. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed heck of a novel that evokes heist films like the Ocean series. The overuse of subplots and characters may detract from the overall enjoyment depending on how the reader reacts to them. I would recommend this book to those who like humor-based crime novels and movies. I liked The Bouncer so much that my profile picture for the website contains it and that I immensely look forward to reading The Hard Stuff soon.
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