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Mahoney’s Camaro

by Michael J. Clark
ECW Press, May 2019, $15.95

Michael Clark’s second novel (following 2015’s Clean S­­weep) tells the story of mechanic and tow truck operator Steve Mahony, whose main missions in life are to pay his bills, return his overdue cassettes to Video Stop, and restore his beloved ’67 Camaro. One night, fate guides him to a replacement body for his “baby,” which he rescues from a river and later secures for $1,200 Canadian. There’s one slight drawback, however—the rescued car is the place where one Heather Price, accountant and junkie, met an untimely demise handcuffed to the steering will and left for dead after an overdose. Mahoney can overlook that sordid detail, but he can’t overlook the fact that her spirit haunts the car. Her confusion over her present state, and how she got there, leads Mahoney to sympathize with her plight, triggering an impromptu investigation into the details of her final hours.

Clark handily maintains positive forward momentum throughout, glorifying cars and car lore the way Stephen Hunter glorifies guns, seeding his narrative, set in mid-1980s Manitoba, with generous dollops of good humor and great character turns from even the most minor members of his cast. Let’s put it this way: a book that successfully evokes the films Ghost and Christine, and the novels of Thorne Smith (Topper, especially), Elmore Leonard (the criminal element involved is as engaging and sometimes more sympathetic than the book’s protagonists, a truly winning lot), and Stephen King (Christine, again) is not one to be missed. So don’t.

Hank Wagner
Teri Duerr
May 2019
ECW Press