Pick of the Week: Don’t Ever Look Back by Daniel Friedman
Hooray! Retired Police Detective Baruch “Buck’’ Schatz returns, more ornery than ever, in Daniel Friedman’s terrific second mystery, Don’t Ever Look Back. Friedman introduced the colorful octogenarian in Don’t Ever Get Old, imagining what life would be like for a Dirty Harry type of character in his 80s.
At 88, Buck is in even worse physical shape in Don’t Ever Look Back, thanks to injuries he incurred in the first book. He is living with his wife in a senior assisted living facility, and must use a walker to get around. As annoying as the walker is, Buck discovers that it turns out to be a handy weapon.
Buck’s sedentary lifestyle, filled with painful physical therapy appointments, is disrupted when an enemy from his past shows up at the retirement home. The 80-year-old criminal, known only as Elijah, got away with a huge bank robbery heist in 1965 when Buck was a cop. But now Elijah beseeches Buck for help, saying his life is in grave danger.
Buck, of course, is bored and can’t resist getting a chance to capture the big crook that got away all those years ago. He ends up jumping into a huge, deadly mess that just causes more headaches for his long-suffering wife, Rose. This second book is a bit darker than the first, and examines the racial tensions that simmered in Memphis in the 1960s. It also gives Buck’s perspective of what it was like to be one of the few Jewish detectives on the force. His grandson, William “Tequila’’ Schatz, also returns, helping Buck with technology questions.
Watching two dangerous men in their 80s go at each other was hugely entertaining. I just hope Buck can keep himself healthy enough so Friedman can write more stories about his adventures. Maybe he should lay off the cigarettes? In the meantime, I read that a screenplay is being written for Don’t Ever Get Old. Alan Arkin would be great as Buck!