A lot, of course, when Bill's car acts up and he has to pull off the road just past Tulsa, Oklahoma. He stops at a remarkably grubby restaurant for a bite and some beer and shots, and here his nightmare truly begins. The town he's stopped in harbors dangers he never suspected, and the hit man the Rockaway Mob hired to find and kill him turns up. The town representatives, Bill, and the hit man each have their own agendas, and how the imbroglio among these three players shakes out is in doubt until the very end. Kolakowski knows how to plant his twists to keep the reader on his toes. Progress for a person turns into a setback turns into an apparent escape turns into yet another reversal. It all reads very fast and the author has a light touch; he wants his readers to have fun. He knows just how far to push the twists and the action without making his tale a complete cartoon.
A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps is the first in a prospective series. It's the opening salvo in what's called "A Love & Bullets Hookup". And true to this description, for all the bullets that fly in the story, for all the lovingly rendered violence, love plays a large part, too, though Nick Kolakowski is way too cynical and smart a writer to let anything here become sentimental. He's good at writing banter between men and women, and he can sharply etch, in a sentence or two, the ridiculous self-pity men can wallow in when reflecting on relationships gone bad. The word "Saps" is not in the book's title for nothing; guys who fancy themselves the toughest son of a bitches around can be as soft as melted taffy on the inside.
Where the series goes next is anybody's guess, but volume one gets things going well. There's blood, wit, and romance under duress. A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps delivers the goods in unapologetic pulp style.
You can get A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps at Amazon right here.