Matt Phillips’ You Must Have a Death Wish is a fun blast of noir which follows three men through their disastrous decision-making – Moonie Sykes who is branching out to become a hit-man and who finds it difficult to harden his heart for it; Gato, a man so pissed at an associate he wants Moonie to kill him and then maybe set him up for the murder, and Larry Aces, the dodgy property businessman who screwed Gato over.
If you’ve read any Matt Phillips you’ll expect violence, some offbeat conversations, and an explosive finale. I powered through this one, and though there’s some gruesome acts to make you wince, this felt more of a lighthearted romp from Phillips than the other two I’ve read – Know Me from Smoke and Countdown where the consequences really hurt.
The main man, Moonie, is a fantastic character, full of heart, always looking for a way up, but somehow lacking the immorality you need to get ahead in the crime world. Gato is a lizard – cold, calculating, and holds a grudge only the splash of blood can cool. Larry Aces is funny, wildly immoral, performs one act you can’t ever forgive him for, and spews rubbish out of his mouth every sentence. A proper scumbag.
The one character I didn’t buy is Zelda who hooks up with Larry Aces after he goes on the lam, drawn way too thin compared to the richness Phillips always gives his characters. I didn’t get what she wanted, she seemed to hate Aces and yet stayed with him it seems just for the size of his dick.
Other than that, a rip-roaring bit of pulpy noir.