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Mean Business on North Ganson Street

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A distraught businessman kills himself after a short, impolite conversation with a detective named Jules Bettinger. Because of this incident, the unkind (but decorated) policeman is forced to relocate himself and his family from Arizona to the frigid north, where he will work for an understaffed precinct in Victory, Missouri. This collapsed rustbelt city is a dying beast t A distraught businessman kills himself after a short, impolite conversation with a detective named Jules Bettinger. Because of this incident, the unkind (but decorated) policeman is forced to relocate himself and his family from Arizona to the frigid north, where he will work for an understaffed precinct in Victory, Missouri. This collapsed rustbelt city is a dying beast that devours itself and its inhabitants...and has done so for more than four decades. Its streets are covered with dead pigeons and there are seven hundred criminals for every law enforcer. Partnered with a boorish and demoted corporal, Bettinger investigates a double homicide in which two policemen were slain and mutilated. The detective looks for answers in the fringes of the city and also in the pasts of the cops with whom he works--men who stomped on a local drug dealer until he was disabled. Bettinger soon begins to suspect that the double homicide is not an isolated event, but a prelude to a series of cop executions...


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A distraught businessman kills himself after a short, impolite conversation with a detective named Jules Bettinger. Because of this incident, the unkind (but decorated) policeman is forced to relocate himself and his family from Arizona to the frigid north, where he will work for an understaffed precinct in Victory, Missouri. This collapsed rustbelt city is a dying beast t A distraught businessman kills himself after a short, impolite conversation with a detective named Jules Bettinger. Because of this incident, the unkind (but decorated) policeman is forced to relocate himself and his family from Arizona to the frigid north, where he will work for an understaffed precinct in Victory, Missouri. This collapsed rustbelt city is a dying beast that devours itself and its inhabitants...and has done so for more than four decades. Its streets are covered with dead pigeons and there are seven hundred criminals for every law enforcer. Partnered with a boorish and demoted corporal, Bettinger investigates a double homicide in which two policemen were slain and mutilated. The detective looks for answers in the fringes of the city and also in the pasts of the cops with whom he works--men who stomped on a local drug dealer until he was disabled. Bettinger soon begins to suspect that the double homicide is not an isolated event, but a prelude to a series of cop executions...

30 review for Mean Business on North Ganson Street

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melki

    Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! And we have a winner for HOLY-CRAPiest book of the year! ______________________ Detective Jules Bettinger's mouth has gotten him into trouble, and now he's been banished to Siberia a crime-ridden shithole named Victory, Missouri, where 70% of the males have criminal records, and there's one cop for every thousand citizens. There Bettinger encounters a boss and coworkers who just can't get over how dark his skin is - "It's like . . . outer space, without the stars." - a Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! And we have a winner for HOLY-CRAPiest book of the year! ______________________ Detective Jules Bettinger's mouth has gotten him into trouble, and now he's been banished to Siberia a crime-ridden shithole named Victory, Missouri, where 70% of the males have criminal records, and there's one cop for every thousand citizens. There Bettinger encounters a boss and coworkers who just can't get over how dark his skin is - "It's like . . . outer space, without the stars." - and a new partner he cannot trust. His first case? A grisly murder that turned into multiple acts of necrophilia. Wow! I'm betting this place doesn't rake in a lot of tourists' dollars. Before long, the necrophilia case has taken a backseat, as a pair of cops are brutally slain. Then a few more officers go missing. Bettinger and his partner must learn to work together, or they may be the next officers gunned down. This book will send you through an emotional wringer - you'll laugh, be horrified, and maybe even wipe away a tear or two. It is gross, funny, and extremely violent. Be warned - bad things happen to people who deserve them, but horrible things happen to those who don't. What starts out as almost a fish-out-of-water, comedy of manners tale quickly gets dead serious, and the last third of the book takes a truly dark turn that I was not expecting. I was on the edge of my seat, chewing my nails by the time I reached the slam-bang finale that's set in a nearly post-apocalyptic area of the city inhabited only by meth heads and the homeless. You just know that when one of the characters says, "Watch out for pits." And another man adds, "And bear traps." that you're in for one hell of a ride.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ɗẳɳ 2.☊

    After a disastrous interview with a distraught businessman ends in tragedy, Detective Jules Bettinger is forced to transfer from sunny, western Arizona to a wintery, crime-ridden shithole in flyover country. Exiled to the small town of Victory, Missouri with a police force barely numbering in the twenties, Bettinger discovers a decaying community in desperate need of case closers, where criminals outnumber policemen 700 to 1. A place that feels more like Siberia than middle America, where police After a disastrous interview with a distraught businessman ends in tragedy, Detective Jules Bettinger is forced to transfer from sunny, western Arizona to a wintery, crime-ridden shithole in flyover country. Exiled to the small town of Victory, Missouri with a police force barely numbering in the twenties, Bettinger discovers a decaying community in desperate need of case closers, where criminals outnumber policemen 700 to 1. A place that feels more like Siberia than middle America, where police and pigeons(?) are endangered species. Affixed to a pole on the right side of the road was a wooden plank that read WELCOME TO VICTORY. Human excrement had been smeared across the greeting. “Classy.” With such a shortage of detectives, it’s critical to pick and choose cases wisely. Prioritize where to devote his time to do the most good in the community, and boy is Bettinger’s first case a doozy—a grisly murder spree that devolved into multiple acts of necrophilia. But, after a couple of officers are slain in a brutal execution, he’s redirected onto that investigation. Once he realizes the act was retaliation for alleged misdeeds by his fellow officers and merely the opening salvo in a much larger war, he doesn’t know who he can trust. And, when things get personal, he’s forced to set aside his moral code and engage in the same ruthless, homicidal tactics that are being used against him. Much madness ensues. . . . This book got off to a rocky start for me. What with the author’s peculiar turn of phrase and strange phobia of names and straightforward description—often referring to his main character as simply “the detective” or “the man from Arizona” and his partner as “the big fella”—along with his annoying penchant for using twenty words when two would suffice. Like so: ❅The young officer who had received a vomit crown and matching epaulets had departed early, shaken by the experience while the lobotomized corpse was taken to a place that had steel doors, an astringent smell, and digital thermometers that displayed low temperatures in both Celsius and Fahrenheit scales. ❅“How’s that angry ex-wife of yours?” asked the thing that lived inside of Bettinger’s mouth. ❅“What’s weed?” Curvature appeared on the young woman’s chin. ❅Tires screeched, and the long, four-wheeled organism shot past the policemen. Honestly, this showy, pretentious style seemed out of place for a rather straight forward crime novel. But, eventually, the worm turned and I was able to forgive the author for being a little too in love with his own voice when I came across a dialog-driven chapter with a twentysomething girl named Kimmy that was so well-written it had me weeping for humanity. Then, as I rounded into the second act, things went pear-shaped so quickly and so dramatically that I began to tear through the pages like a madman. My heart was racing, as I broke out into cold chills and nearly chewed my fingernails down to the quick. That part of the storyline was so compelling and intense that you couldn’t have pried the book outta my hand with a crowbar. By the time the explosive third act arrived, and the story shifted to the fringes of the crumbling rustbelt city that seemed more like a nightmarish post-apocalyptic wasteland than anywhere in the continental U.S., I was anxious to escape from this mad world with some semblance of my sanity left intact. In the end, it was a bit of an overwhelming experience—one that I won’t soon forget, but one that I was happy to finally be able to set aside. Bottom line: If a gruesome, crude story, shot through with dark humor and violent individuals that come in only two forms: bad and worse, set in a nightmarish, wintery landscape, sounds like your idea of a good time, then you’ve come to the right place. After all, this is the same sick and twisted mind behind films like Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    After his smart mouth inadvertently lands him in hot water, Detective Jules Bettinger finds himself and his family exiled from the warmth of Arizona to the frozen wasteland of Victory, Missouri - a charming place littered with pigeon bones, dead cats nailed to posts and faeces-covered signs. His first case? A serial necrophiliac. But before he can kick himself into oblivion for fucking his career up so badly, a war between the gangsters who run the town and the shady police, hardly much better t After his smart mouth inadvertently lands him in hot water, Detective Jules Bettinger finds himself and his family exiled from the warmth of Arizona to the frozen wasteland of Victory, Missouri - a charming place littered with pigeon bones, dead cats nailed to posts and faeces-covered signs. His first case? A serial necrophiliac. But before he can kick himself into oblivion for fucking his career up so badly, a war between the gangsters who run the town and the shady police, hardly much better themselves, is about to erupt. And then the cop executions begin. Mean business indeed… ! I’m not a huge fan of crime fiction as I find the stories too contrived, limited and formulaic while the writing tends to be bland and dull (police procedurals – ugh!). S. Craig Zahler’s Mean Business on North Ganson Street though is different for its lively, unique prose style that lends the story an unexpected, but not unwelcome, playful tone. It’s also the novel’s downfall. Zahler is an extremely verbose writer deeply in love with his extended vocabulary and eager to constantly show it off. This makes for a very plodding pace to what should be a zippier read given the exciting subject matter. There were so many scenes that, after I finished them, I wondered “What the hell was the point of going through all of that?”. Without going into specifics that might spoilerize, Zahler can’t ever leave anything to the reader’s imagination – everything has to be described in excruciating detail. He can’t say that the character went to the place and then pick up the story at that place; no, we have to read about the drive over there where nothing really happens! Then, scenes between characters that you’d take as read – ie. one character telling another, “I’ma git them for this!” etc. – are similarly pointlessly written up. We can’t have characters say they’ll go somewhere and then show up there, or say they’ll pick up something and just deal with it in a sentence, we have to see them do everything in extensive detail and it becomes so wearisome to read! Maybe he thought he was building tension by taking this approach but I just found it frustrating. This modestly-sized 300 page novel would’ve been so much better at 200 pages or less. I also wasn’t taken with the main character, Bettinger, who was a rather bland good guy. He’s good at his job, he has a loving family – yawn. I just found him such a boring person to spend any time with. The villain was underwhelming too and, given that he was off-page for nearly the entire book, the showdown with him at the end felt rushed and slightly anti-climactic. But there were many parts I enjoyed. The scenes without Bettinger were cracking, particularly once the cop executions begin. I liked the Victory police, a hard-boiled murderers’ row of crazy anti-heroes fighting for a semblance of justice in hell on earth and who you’re never quite sure to root for or not. Bettinger’s partner Dominic was very memorable, as was their boss, the boxing-mad larger-than-life Inspector Zwolinski, and the dialogue throughout was near-as-dammit perfect, always giving the reader a strong idea of the characters. Mean Business on North Ganson Street is an extremely violent and graphic genre novel that suffers from overwriting and pacing issues. But it’s also unique for Zahler’s style with enough compelling material in the characters and story to keep from becoming a bore. Given how good his movies are – Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, both of which I’d highly recommend if you’ve not seen them – I’d hoped this would be as high quality but it seems that the movies are so good because of the 2 hour run times. Take those constraints away and Zahler’s otherwise enthralling storytelling becomes sprawling, to its detriment. Mean Business isn’t a bad read but I’d caution anyone expecting the same level of awesome as his movies. And I can’t wait for Dragged Across Concrete out next month! (Hat tip to Dan 2.0 for the rec)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Still

    Fast paced crime-thriller. Intensely violent. After being indirectly responsible for a suicide, Lieutenant Detective Jules Bettinger from Arizona is banished to the fictional town of Victory in Missouri that has the highest murder, rape, and other crime rates in the United States. He moves with his family (his wife, an acclaimed artist and his two children) to Stonesburg, Missouri which is the only family-friendly town within driving distance of Victory, Missouri. When he arrives in Victory he dis Fast paced crime-thriller. Intensely violent. After being indirectly responsible for a suicide, Lieutenant Detective Jules Bettinger from Arizona is banished to the fictional town of Victory in Missouri that has the highest murder, rape, and other crime rates in the United States. He moves with his family (his wife, an acclaimed artist and his two children) to Stonesburg, Missouri which is the only family-friendly town within driving distance of Victory, Missouri. When he arrives in Victory he discovers what a rat-hole of a place it is. The temperature never seems to rise above freezing and the wind howls non-stop. His first case is the rape/murder of a hooker. Her body has been found mutilated and raped posthumously, on North Ganson Street- a section of Victory known to locals as "Shitopia". Unpleasant section of the novel to read but forget about it -there's worse to come. This is a remarkably brutal novel as was the previous Zahler novel I read, ...no - - - ahhhh, wait a second. It's brutal but not quite as sadistic as the acts perpetrated upon the citizens of a small town by the bad guys in "Jackals". This is a fast-paced, suspenseful novel full of dread. The descriptions of the tortures the main characters endure are hard to read. It's phenomenally violent and that last third of the book when the lead character, "Lieutenant Bettinger", and his partners chase the bad guys north of "Shitopia" to an abandoned area known as "The Heaps" is a page-turning marathon of violence and ultra-mayhem. If cop thrillers spiced with descriptions of sickening rapes, maimings, beatings, bear-traps, eye-gougings, teeth smashing and other delightful descriptions of harrowing punishments dealt upon human bodies is your thing then here's a 12-pack to go. Recommended!

  5. 5 out of 5

    E.J.

    Mean Business on North Ganson Street is like a kick to the face that you never see coming. You read the log line expecting it to be just another cop drama and then wham, it grabs you by the short hairs and never lets go. I've read two books by S. Craig Zahler, both of which were hardcore, noir westerns. The type Zane Grey would have read, got on his horse, and made for a safer town. Now, Zahler segues to modern day crime with the same in your face, no-holds-barred writing style that readers of th Mean Business on North Ganson Street is like a kick to the face that you never see coming. You read the log line expecting it to be just another cop drama and then wham, it grabs you by the short hairs and never lets go. I've read two books by S. Craig Zahler, both of which were hardcore, noir westerns. The type Zane Grey would have read, got on his horse, and made for a safer town. Now, Zahler segues to modern day crime with the same in your face, no-holds-barred writing style that readers of the gritty nitty like me love. Don't get me wrong. This isn't some street torture porn. This is MAN ON FIRE, SEVEN kind of stuff. It's smart, it's dark, and it will whip your ass if you stay up too late reading it. Basic idea is a cop from the big city gets in trouble for doing his job right (politics, biotches) and the only gig he can find is in some violent little town in Missouri. His partner doesn't like him. His wife doesn't like the area. And that's as upbeat as things ever get. Pretty soon, someone starts executing cops and these two have to find those responsible and stop them before they become targets themselves. If you like your stories cutsie and all tied up, stop here. This isn't for you. If you like your reads raw, the kind that has you muttering "holy S$%@" in bed, prompting your spouse or lover to ask again and again, "what are you reading?" then dive right in. Mean Business pulls no punches. The characters are dark, but real. The dialogue is like Mozart fresh from the hood. And when it's all done and you're taking a shower to clean up and thank the stars you don't live anywhere near a town like that, you'll be running to the computer to see what Zahler has next. Go ahead. Pick it up. And get ready for a whole new ride.

  6. 5 out of 5

    William M.

    Author S. Craig Zahler, after an incredibly successful pair of westerns and a groundbreaking science fiction novel, tries his hand with a straight crime story in the form of a very dark police procedural novel. As always with Zahler's work, his characters shine with originality and infused with a history that reinforces their decisions and motivations. Violent and graphic, the author does not shy away from making the reader feel uncomfortable, immersing them in a world of dark secrets and sponta Author S. Craig Zahler, after an incredibly successful pair of westerns and a groundbreaking science fiction novel, tries his hand with a straight crime story in the form of a very dark police procedural novel. As always with Zahler's work, his characters shine with originality and infused with a history that reinforces their decisions and motivations. Violent and graphic, the author does not shy away from making the reader feel uncomfortable, immersing them in a world of dark secrets and spontaneous brutality. There is a point in the story where all the pieces of events become clear and when you discover the intent of the antagonist, the book becomes impossible to put down. Even though I enjoyed the author's westerns and science fiction more, this is a welcome addition to an already impressive body of work from one of the truly rare voices in today's fiction. Zahler doesn't just crank out pages to meet a publisher's deadline. He meticulously crafts a thriller that, at times, leaves you breathless. Highly recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sam Kench

    S. Craig Zahler has proven himself to be one of the best new auteur filmmakers. He made his directorial debut in 2015 with Bone Tomahawk, a top notch western with an extremely effective horror turn in the last act. This put him on my radar to watch closely and his second directorial effort did not disappoint. The rule breaking, grindhouse throwback Brawl in Cell Block 99 cemented Zahler as one of my favorite filmmakers. I am eagerly anticipating his next film Dragged Across Concrete which should S. Craig Zahler has proven himself to be one of the best new auteur filmmakers. He made his directorial debut in 2015 with Bone Tomahawk, a top notch western with an extremely effective horror turn in the last act. This put him on my radar to watch closely and his second directorial effort did not disappoint. The rule breaking, grindhouse throwback Brawl in Cell Block 99 cemented Zahler as one of my favorite filmmakers. I am eagerly anticipating his next film Dragged Across Concrete which should be coming out later this year, hopefully it gets a wide release. Being a fan of Zahler’s work it was a pleasant surprise to learn that he had already established himself as a successful author in advance of his film career. The writing within his two feature films are absolute standouts of the years in which they were made and both Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99 had some of the best dialogue and character work around. It was exciting to learn that he had more material for me to experience. I’d like to take a moment to admire how goddamn good Zahler is at titling his works. Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell block 99, Dragged Across Concrete, Wraiths of the Broken Land, A Congregation of Jackals, and the subject of this review; Mean Business on North Ganson Street, are all badass titles. Mean Business follows Detective Jules Bettinger as he is forced to relocate from Arizona to Victory Missouri, dubbed the worst city in America. The relocation takes place after a short scene that brilliantly sets up the protagonist. Bettinger is a great detective but he’s blunt, witty, rude, and has little patience for those on the other end of conflict. A business man speaks to Bettinger at the police station about the disappearance of his wife and the blunt detective gives it to him straight that she isn’t in danger, she skipped town with his money and never loved him. On his way out the door, the businessman steals an officer’s gun and kills himself, thus Bettinger is relocated as punishment. Our protagonist has an excellent way with language, he’s chock full of smarmy comebacks and witty jabs, but he doesn’t use this clever language to dress up or soften the intent behind his words. He is direct and to the point and doesn’t mind being seen as an asshole. This is a character trait that could be cliché. There are a great many protagonists who are constructed with a similar formula, particularly in procedural television. The number of protagonists who can be described by the line; He’s great solving cases but he has personality issues, is a little overwhelming. A lot of these are good, but the formula is apparent, he’s great at solving cases but he has personality issues (Sherlock) he’s great at solving cases but he has personality issues (House) he’s great at solving cases but he has personality issues (Rake) he’s great at solving cases but he has personality issues (Backstrom) he’s great at solving cases but he has personality issues (Bosch) he’s great at solving cases but he has personality issues (Monk) he’s great at solving cases but he has personality issues (Psych) he’s great at solving cases but he has personality issues (Inspector Morse) He’s great at solv- honestly this list could go on and on. This is all to say that while the Mean Business on North Ganson Street protagonist could potentially fit this mold, he never feels cliché. His personality comes across wonderfully and he makes for a really fun, well-defined character to follow through this incredibly dark story. Bettinger’s family is also well developed, especially his wife and the relationship that the two of them share. There’s a bit of characterization that I love for the wife’s character where evey time she laughs it sounds like there’s an old man in her chest having a fit, and Bettinger loves to get that oldster chuckling. Their relationship is sweet and provides an excellent balance to Bettinger’s disposition. She’s a great character in her own right as well, not just in relationship to the story’s lead. She’s a painter and as the story progresses we learn more about her as a person and an artist. The trajectory of her career, with a highly lauded gallery to feature her work, provides a good foil to the dangerous and consuming work of her husband. In many detectives stories an aside to explore the protagonist’s family can feel like little more than a distraction to the central plot, but here, every time Bettinger took a minute to call home while on the job, I was fully invested and grew to like the characters more and more. The novel is host to a bevy of antagonistic characters, the main baddie left a mystery for a good chunk of the book, and even after the reveal they are exclusively referred to without actually being present until the very end. This isn’t an issue as there is a strong cast of secondary antagonists with a mysterious man called E.V.K being particularly menacing, partly due to his horrific actions, but also due to how little we learn about him as a reader. A great example of how to create intrigue by withholding information. In addition to the antagonistic characters, the book is also set in an oppressively antagonistic setting. The fictional setting of Victory is easily the most engrossing aspect of Mean Business on North Ganson Street. Victory is a city comprised almost exclusively of criminals, not even police maintain order, the police that are present are largely corrupt and the entirety of the law force is a constant target to violent killers. Victory is the kind of city where the street signs have all been decapitated and you gauge which turn to take by the severed cat head nailed to the telephone pole. It’s a brutal place and Zahler’s description of it is rich and consuming in the best way. It’s a setting that I could spend much more time in as a reader. There are a few smaller confrontations between Bettinger and the cop hating locals and more of these instances would have been welcome. The world building is incredibly strong and contributes greatly for my desire to see this story as a feature film, or even the setting as a television series. I looked into it after finishing the book and according to Deadline the film rights were actually acquired by Warner Brothers back in 2013 with Zahler set to write the script and the film set to star Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx. I would hope Zahler would be able to direct it as well but the is no director attached and it doesn’t look like the production has moved forward. As much as I like DiCaprio and Foxx, I don’t think they fit the roles. According to Deadline, Dicaprio is supposed to play Bettinger, which is definitely not right since Bettinger is described as having skin as dark as outer space but without the stars, and Jamie Foxx is set to play his parter who is constantly described as being absolutely massive, but Foxx is only 5’9, far from a behemoth, still that’s an easier change than a complete race swap which is pretty important to the character. If I were casting, I’d go with someone like Lance Reddick or Michael K Williams as Bettinger and someone like Tiny Lister JR. or Terry Crews as his partner. I would like to see Mean Business on North Ganson Street as a novel, the entire story is very cinematic and the short chapters, many lasting only a page or two, made the pacing feel considerably more film-like than your average book as it moved from scene-to-scene. Mean Business on North Ganson street pulls no punches. It’s mean, it’s brutal, it’s cool, it’s witty, and one hell of a read. I was reading it quite late one night and had to put it down before I fell asleep, I had a dream in the book’s world, then finished the rest of the book first thing in the morning. A novel hasn’t grabbed me like that in a long while. I highly recommend it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Tomlinson

    In S. Craig Zahler’s new book, a good detective’s bad judgment earns him exile to the heartland where his investigation into a murder opens up a very nasty can of worms. MEAN BUSINESS is a great example of "heartland noir" where we know something is rotten in Missouri even before disgraced detective Jules Bettinger arrives. Bettinger is a well-rounded character who comes across as a good man in a bad, bad job. He's cynical, but there's a reason for it, and what we see of his private life--his re In S. Craig Zahler’s new book, a good detective’s bad judgment earns him exile to the heartland where his investigation into a murder opens up a very nasty can of worms. MEAN BUSINESS is a great example of "heartland noir" where we know something is rotten in Missouri even before disgraced detective Jules Bettinger arrives. Bettinger is a well-rounded character who comes across as a good man in a bad, bad job. He's cynical, but there's a reason for it, and what we see of his private life--his relationship with his family members--tells us he sees them as a refuge and a respite. The writer also does a good job of making stone sociopaths understandable. They're still chilling characters but we understand what motivates them. The plot is twisty and complicated but never quite gets … convoluted. It does get kind of random a bit, though. We know some of the pieces of the puzzle up front (and that means we know more than Bettinger does at first) and we may suspect we know what else is going on, but there are a number of surprises here. The resolution of the mystery is a bit ambiguous, though. We genuinely don't know how it's all going to end, and that's something that rarely happens in this kind of book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    I'm not some expert on writing reviews but I loved this book. This is the first ever book I've read in only one day. I tore through those pages like no other book I have ever read. I think the short chapters helped with that. Funny, gruesome, sometimes disturbing and all around a great book. I'm not some expert on writing reviews but I loved this book. This is the first ever book I've read in only one day. I tore through those pages like no other book I have ever read. I think the short chapters helped with that. Funny, gruesome, sometimes disturbing and all around a great book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Donna Foster

    This book shocked me!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. S. Craig Zahler's "Mean Business on North Ganson Street" lives up to its title in spades. This is a bloody book, which is soon to be a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Fox. Zahler casts a wide net, showing a grim and disturbing portrait of an inner city gone terrible. The helpless are often victims, from the abused child beaten in the bathtub and forced to eat feces, to the murderous drug dealer who has hired a hit man to take out cops and anyone else. Faced with impossible odds of deal S. Craig Zahler's "Mean Business on North Ganson Street" lives up to its title in spades. This is a bloody book, which is soon to be a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Fox. Zahler casts a wide net, showing a grim and disturbing portrait of an inner city gone terrible. The helpless are often victims, from the abused child beaten in the bathtub and forced to eat feces, to the murderous drug dealer who has hired a hit man to take out cops and anyone else. Faced with impossible odds of dealing with rampant crime, the cops had resorted to an unholy alliance with a local drug dealer, but that plan goes sideways, when the drug dealer stops cooperating. But in Zahler's attempt to show crime at its worst, the women victims of the depicted violence suffer particularly odious wounds or are tortured to reveal information. The ends seems to justify the means. It is a grim book, and the hero cop suffers greatly. While it starts out pretty good its goes south big time. It was hard to ride it to its violent conclusion. Jules Bettinger is a no nonsense detective forced to relocate from Arizona to Victory, Missouri after an interrogation in Arizona goes bad. Victory is such a grim location that Bettinger and his family are forced to live miles away from his job. Bettinger immediately proves his skills as a detective by figuring out that someone is killing young women in particularly heinous ways and filming it. Bettinger's young partner seems to want to spend most of his time on the telephone texting his cold partner. In Zahler's capable hands, Bettinger is revealed as a caring family man, with a deep love for his wife and younger daughter and slightly estranged from his teenage son. But are these scenes of love and family in the novel to augment Zahler's portrait of his hero, or merely a way to make the last third of the book even more gruesome. The reader is definitely manipulated. Two cops are killed their bodies dismembered gruesomely. Bettinger thinks his partner knows something about the murders, and learns about the drug dealer alliance that has gone sideways. It seems the drug dealer was beaten and withdrew his complaint against cops, but shortly thereafter the cops are being targeted and killed by hitmen. It does not take a genius to figure out the connection. Bettinger has to figure out where the drug dealer is hiding out and stop the hitmen before the cop killers strike again, but the killers are going after cops in their homes and their loved ones are at risk. Bettinger will be forced to confront one killer in the worst possible place, and then team up with his partner as they go after the drug dealer in his lair. This is a excessively violent story and some of the violence is particularly over the top. The real world has its share of horrors, but Zahler's vision of Victory, Missouri is hard and mean.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Bjorne

    I've enjoyed all of Zahler's work, and this was no different. He definitely scratches that hardcore noir itch. I've enjoyed all of Zahler's work, and this was no different. He definitely scratches that hardcore noir itch.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Francis

    Let's see besides the gratuitous violence there was ....? Hmmm, I guess that was about it. Let's see besides the gratuitous violence there was ....? Hmmm, I guess that was about it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    James Oxyer

    Mean-spirited and gross for the sake of being mean-spirited and gross, but it's a damn good hard-boiled read. If there's one universal truth Zahler hits the nail on the head with, it's that Missouri sucks ass. Mean-spirited and gross for the sake of being mean-spirited and gross, but it's a damn good hard-boiled read. If there's one universal truth Zahler hits the nail on the head with, it's that Missouri sucks ass.

  15. 4 out of 5

    P.D. Fingersnarl

    S. Craig Zahler is the modern master of anti-heroes. Victory, Missouri is as much an integral character in his work than even the protagonist as it serves to shape and meld him to its malignant will.

  16. 4 out of 5

    David

    Someone make this into a movie please. Brilliant.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Hartman

    From the opening chapter S. Craig Zahler paints a vivid picture of a nightmarish city of violence where even the good guys have quite a bit of bad in them. Victory, Missouri is a city I'm glad doesn't exist, but to be honest some cities aren't too far off from it now. Mean Business on North Ganson Street is a hard-hitting crime/thriller in which a detective finds himself and his family in danger when someone begins systematically hunting and killing every police officer in the city. This novel i From the opening chapter S. Craig Zahler paints a vivid picture of a nightmarish city of violence where even the good guys have quite a bit of bad in them. Victory, Missouri is a city I'm glad doesn't exist, but to be honest some cities aren't too far off from it now. Mean Business on North Ganson Street is a hard-hitting crime/thriller in which a detective finds himself and his family in danger when someone begins systematically hunting and killing every police officer in the city. This novel is at the same time darkly funny and brutally violent, filled with interesting characters and crackling dialogue. I could literally close my eyes, open the book, stab my finger down on the paper, and I'd touch some amazing dialogue. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of crime/thrillers with dark humor and shocking violence.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Barb

    I just finished reading “Mean Business on North Ganson Street” by S. Craig Zahler. While the story held my interest as a thriller, it was far too “blood and guts” graphic for me. I would put a disclaimer on this novel that persons under a certain age should not read it. I thought that the main characters in the story evolved throughout the novel and almost became something different from what they were in the beginning. I’m sure this book has a big following among those who like cop stories; how I just finished reading “Mean Business on North Ganson Street” by S. Craig Zahler. While the story held my interest as a thriller, it was far too “blood and guts” graphic for me. I would put a disclaimer on this novel that persons under a certain age should not read it. I thought that the main characters in the story evolved throughout the novel and almost became something different from what they were in the beginning. I’m sure this book has a big following among those who like cop stories; however this was just not my cup of tea. I was sent a free print copy of this book by NightOwlReviews.com in return for my honest review. You can find my review on my website at http://wp.me/p2pjIt-eQ.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This is a brutal tale of vengeance on the fringe of society. I know by now to expect a bloody showdown whenever I read a book by S. Craig Zahler and Mean Business on North Ganson Street is no exception. This book is firmly rooted in the noir/crime genres and if you are a fan of police fiction you won't be disappointed. Perhaps my favorite part of the book involved a fictional submarine movie called The Crushing Depths. This short section was the perfect commentary on Japanese movies and dying wi This is a brutal tale of vengeance on the fringe of society. I know by now to expect a bloody showdown whenever I read a book by S. Craig Zahler and Mean Business on North Ganson Street is no exception. This book is firmly rooted in the noir/crime genres and if you are a fan of police fiction you won't be disappointed. Perhaps my favorite part of the book involved a fictional submarine movie called The Crushing Depths. This short section was the perfect commentary on Japanese movies and dying with honor which stood in excellent contrast to the moral gray area that police today often work in.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    This was a mean and nasty cop story. Filled with vile characters, brutal violence, and some witty dialogue. It almost makes Zahler's directorial debut "Bone Tomahawk" look tame. I loved it. This was a mean and nasty cop story. Filled with vile characters, brutal violence, and some witty dialogue. It almost makes Zahler's directorial debut "Bone Tomahawk" look tame. I loved it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    PhatNana

    I was introduced to Zahler's work (admittedly late) in 2017 with his directorial debut, Bone Tomahawk. After, basically, forcing my friends to watch it with me 6-7 more times in the following 6-7 weeks, I declared Bone Tomahawk as possibly my all time favorite movie. Wait... Zahler writes novels? Two of which are also Westerns?? Here in 2021, 'A Congregation of Jackals' is possibly my favorite read with 'Wraiths of the Broken Land' still making my top 15ish. Time to dive into his contemporarily I was introduced to Zahler's work (admittedly late) in 2017 with his directorial debut, Bone Tomahawk. After, basically, forcing my friends to watch it with me 6-7 more times in the following 6-7 weeks, I declared Bone Tomahawk as possibly my all time favorite movie. Wait... Zahler writes novels? Two of which are also Westerns?? Here in 2021, 'A Congregation of Jackals' is possibly my favorite read with 'Wraiths of the Broken Land' still making my top 15ish. Time to dive into his contemporarily set novels. Enter 'Mean Business on North Ganson Street.' 50 year old veteran Detective, Jules Bettinger, already seems jaded in the comfort and warmth of his Arizona precinct. Then, one day, his apathy towards "stupidity" results in tragedy for a powerful local family, after Bettinger's brutally honest and demoralizing advice does more damage than good. The department doesn't want to fire him but big time local influencers won't stand for a slap on the wrist... So Jules and his family pack up for his transfer to Victory, Missouri... Victory is known as the country's (maybe the world's) worst city, with 1000 criminals per single law enforcer. Victory's exit sign off a major highway is smeared with human... uh... waste, criminals have removed all the street signs, and the 'Entering Victory' sign was decorated by a local citizen with a dead cat... pinned to the sign by a nail through its head. Got the picture? There are places in this town even the police have literally NEVER ventured to! When police officers seem to be being targeted, Bettinger's skills as a detective are integral but not totally capable of solving the issue. Bettinger must learn to work with Victory's "finest," who aren't above terrorizing, brutalizing, intimidating, or flat out murder to get things done. Zahler manages to get the reader to worry about, care for, and root for characters who are actually the ultimate villain to one, if not many, other people's stories! He does this by beautifully developing these characters and putting them up against antagonists who's absolutely despicable deeds and depravity almost make you want to kill them yourself... and not exactly quickly! You're able to visualize every scene. Whether it's a genuinely heart warming conversation between lovers, the tension of a creeping killer, or just someone with their lower jaw and nose blown off vomiting up bile and the contents of their own colostomy bag that was just jammed and squeezed down their exposed esophagus... I've given all of Zahler's books (I've read so far) a 5-star rating. What can I say, I am a fanboy. However, I had a FEW issues with 'Mean Business on North Ganson Street.' 1. The ending: One aspect of the mystery is solved but it was not the most pressing matter or immediate threat, in my opinion. Then, we're just kind of told "oh yeah, all that got taken care of real quick and without any kind of struggle." For SCREEN RANT fans, it's pretty much a "Super easy, barely an inconvenience," kind of moment. 2. Some weird decisions: We are treated to about 20 pages of our "heroes," making their way through treacherous terrain, in Sub-Zero blizzard conditions, to reach the climactic 'Boss-Battle' so to speak. They're still 20 fantastic and immensely tense pages but the 'final battle' eats up no more than 3-4 pages. This is NOT common for Zahler. 3. Too many characters(?): There are a LOT of people involved in this debacle. While Zahler does an incredible job fleshing out the main players, some frequently featured side-characters are harder to care about. This leads to some situations where certain people are a huge part of important events but you never got a deeper look into the character... Maybe I'm nit-picking... I just found myself wondering "Why didn't Zahler just have Joe Bagofdonuts do this instead of Jimmy Boombattz." All in all, "Mean Business on North Ganson Street,' is still a gripping, white-knuckle read! Zahler's works are always disguised as just another classic Western tale or a standard crime/police procedural. The originality comes in his execution. You'll have a picture in your head of how events will unfold then be floored by how they do. Then, around the halfway point, you won't put it down until you finish. The most common warning is see in past reviews is "Mean Business is not for the faint of heart," and I will definitely back that up. This story features some truly disturbing imagery. The violence comes in sporadic bursts but most unsettling, to me, are the casual descriptions of the depravity being committed outside of the main plot. This kind of stuff only covers roughly 10-15% of the story... tho, that makes it no less jarring... Sorry for writing my own novel here... again... fanboy here. If my "review" convinces even a single person to check out 'Mean Business' or any other of Zahler's work, then I'll consider this a W. Thanks for reading!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Truly awful. Couldn't look away, a bit like watching a car crash. I picked up this book on one of the recommended lists I trawl through looking for some inspiration (and new authors) and while some are diamonds, others are just garbage. This is one of the latter. What this guy does with language is unforgivable. I will quote a few of his lines and if by some bizarre chance you think it is acceptable, or even great, then dive right in ... but OMG, it's like wherever he could use 2 words, he would Truly awful. Couldn't look away, a bit like watching a car crash. I picked up this book on one of the recommended lists I trawl through looking for some inspiration (and new authors) and while some are diamonds, others are just garbage. This is one of the latter. What this guy does with language is unforgivable. I will quote a few of his lines and if by some bizarre chance you think it is acceptable, or even great, then dive right in ... but OMG, it's like wherever he could use 2 words, he would grab the Thesaurus and use 10 instead... here you go - (describing 3 men blowing some dog whistles) - "Abdominal muscles constricted, and six lungs shot carbon dioxide through half as many whistles. The detective and his associates blew until they ran out of air, at which point, they pocketed their instruments and listened." (describing cold hands) - "Bettinger discarded his latex gloves and replaced them with their woolen superiors, but the insensate pieces of meat at the ends of his arms did not apprehend any change." (somehow managing to describe how I felt by the end of the book) - "Eleven hours had passed since he had awakened in the Sunflower Motel, but the elapsed time felt like a century" The writing is like this ----- all the way through the very long book. Just .. don't ... do ... it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    In Mean Business, Zahler attempts to do what he does best in his films: push a group of testosterone-filled characters into a series of morally compromising scenarios, while letting you decide how to respond. He doesn’t always slap his characters on the wrist when they do bad things, and he doesn’t always reward them when they do the right thing. He challenges readers to make up their own minds about what should be condoned and what should be rejected. But unlike his films, which are suitably dev In Mean Business, Zahler attempts to do what he does best in his films: push a group of testosterone-filled characters into a series of morally compromising scenarios, while letting you decide how to respond. He doesn’t always slap his characters on the wrist when they do bad things, and he doesn’t always reward them when they do the right thing. He challenges readers to make up their own minds about what should be condoned and what should be rejected. But unlike his films, which are suitably devoid of an overbearing style, Zahler’s voice is so loud in Mean Business that I found it difficult to process how I felt about the story. Even worse, his snarky prose sometimes made the darker aspects of the narrative feel cheap and unearned. His pairing of extreme violence and extreme wittiness just didn’t work for me in the end. Still, there were some powerful, incredibly intense chapters that nearly pushed this to three stars for me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ystyn Francis

    Okay, so I loved S. Craig Zahler's western novels but I found myself just a little perturbed when the violence crossed a line. This is something that happened so rarely but, when it did, it left a scar. What kept me reading was the brilliantly methodical and refreshingly original development of both character and place. So the fact that "Mean Business on North Ganson Street" is both a modern novel AND a crime novel had me baulking from the outset in preparation for the potentially offensive cont Okay, so I loved S. Craig Zahler's western novels but I found myself just a little perturbed when the violence crossed a line. This is something that happened so rarely but, when it did, it left a scar. What kept me reading was the brilliantly methodical and refreshingly original development of both character and place. So the fact that "Mean Business on North Ganson Street" is both a modern novel AND a crime novel had me baulking from the outset in preparation for the potentially offensive content that the context would both provide and demand. The premise, however, was just too good to ignore. I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised to be sucked into a gritty world that definitely got a bit curly at times but never seemed desperate to shock the way his westerns did. The city of Victory was so vividly depicted that it was easy to accept as a real place whilst also feeling like an exaggerated nightmare. I just hope it wasn't based on an actual American city. Despite his challenging moments, Zahler's creativity is possibly second to none in fiction writing currently and I will be drawn to anything that he writes in the future because of it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Whitlock

    This dark, hard-boiled, crime noir, pulpy novel packs a punch. After watching Zahler's 3 movies and learning he is also a novelist, I had to read one. This book didn't disappoint and really played out like another Zahler movie in my head. I've worked in Law Enforcement for 10 years, and some of the scenes were unrealistic, but then I remembered this is noir pulp fiction and that I was really enjoying being lost in Zahler's words, and I enjoyed it the rest of the way through. Zahler is one to alw This dark, hard-boiled, crime noir, pulpy novel packs a punch. After watching Zahler's 3 movies and learning he is also a novelist, I had to read one. This book didn't disappoint and really played out like another Zahler movie in my head. I've worked in Law Enforcement for 10 years, and some of the scenes were unrealistic, but then I remembered this is noir pulp fiction and that I was really enjoying being lost in Zahler's words, and I enjoyed it the rest of the way through. Zahler is one to always throw you off the predictable path, and this one surprised me quite often. There's online articles about this becoming a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and I really, really hope that happens. But even if it doesn't, I know I'm excited to read more Zahler!!

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Jackson

    I noticed several weird tics and infelicities in the writing, but I finally DNF'd at page 17 after reading this sentence: "It was the hour of newspaper delivery guys, people who worked the late shift, and tacit weirdos." I read it again. Tacit weirdos. Tacit weirdos? Tacit. Weirdos. I tried to charitably move past it, but it was like a grit of sand in my brain. I was reminded of comedian Tom Myers naming his album Make America Innate Again. That word, you klutz, doesn't mean anything like what y I noticed several weird tics and infelicities in the writing, but I finally DNF'd at page 17 after reading this sentence: "It was the hour of newspaper delivery guys, people who worked the late shift, and tacit weirdos." I read it again. Tacit weirdos. Tacit weirdos? Tacit. Weirdos. I tried to charitably move past it, but it was like a grit of sand in my brain. I was reminded of comedian Tom Myers naming his album Make America Innate Again. That word, you klutz, doesn't mean anything like what you think it means, and I will not stomach 300 more pages of your illiterate fingerpainting. Zahler is of course a talented filmmaker, and I look forward to anything he does in his rightful medium.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Danton Thomas

    This is my favorite Zahler book. Certainly not by a big margin given the quality of the others, but I really enjoyed it. A black protagonist, although not integral to the story, great urban action and the same level of grit and darkness we see in his other works. I do enjoy Jack Reacher, which this book is the closest of Zahler's books to the genre. I am grateful I read Zahler because after looking for characters similar to Jack Reacher I just get bored by the same boyscout patriotic type with a This is my favorite Zahler book. Certainly not by a big margin given the quality of the others, but I really enjoyed it. A black protagonist, although not integral to the story, great urban action and the same level of grit and darkness we see in his other works. I do enjoy Jack Reacher, which this book is the closest of Zahler's books to the genre. I am grateful I read Zahler because after looking for characters similar to Jack Reacher I just get bored by the same boyscout patriotic type with a few paragraphs of somewhat descriptive fight violence in the with otherwise PG-13 level content. I wish other authors would dare to push the envelope more on the sex and violence to mimic real life and make the stories more memorable and textured. Most of them seem to self- censor.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Matrix_cat

    Dreadful. Genuinely one of the worst books I've ever read. Shockingly repetitive prose. One character is referred to as "the pockmarked Asian" almost every time they're mentioned, honestly like three times a page. Any time a character is in a car the narration says they "dialed the wheel clockwise", any time someone smiles "curvature formed at their chin". Is this a rough draft that mistakenly got sent to the printer? Observe how Zahler depicts a family sitting down for dinner: "Flavorful and ar Dreadful. Genuinely one of the worst books I've ever read. Shockingly repetitive prose. One character is referred to as "the pockmarked Asian" almost every time they're mentioned, honestly like three times a page. Any time a character is in a car the narration says they "dialed the wheel clockwise", any time someone smiles "curvature formed at their chin". Is this a rough draft that mistakenly got sent to the printer? Observe how Zahler depicts a family sitting down for dinner: "Flavorful and aromatic food was swept from plates into mouths, where it was squeezed by peristalsis toward gastric chambers." Find me a worse sentence than that in a published work. Absolutely godawful. Pointless. I wish I'd given up on it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gavin Clark

    Zahler's 2 westerns are excellent. Read them. Go straight to Wraiths of the Broken Land it is extraordinary. Its very violent not for the faint hearted but really good. So what about this one , well its ok. I took ages to read it. Its a modern day cop novel. The first half of it you dont really have a plot to get into nothing much happens, then it takes off and for a bit we are back in Zahler violent action territory its the book you were expecting after reading the westerns. But ... theres a but Zahler's 2 westerns are excellent. Read them. Go straight to Wraiths of the Broken Land it is extraordinary. Its very violent not for the faint hearted but really good. So what about this one , well its ok. I took ages to read it. Its a modern day cop novel. The first half of it you dont really have a plot to get into nothing much happens, then it takes off and for a bit we are back in Zahler violent action territory its the book you were expecting after reading the westerns. But ... theres a but, it then just kind of peters out. It also has loads of strangely worded sentences like he went mad with a thesaurus.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Spencer

    Gripping crime thriller that owes no small debt to the works of Vachss, Leonard, and Lansdale. Zahler has a solid grasp of the English vernacular, but as one of the characters chastises a comrade on page 263: "learn some synonyms." The author should have heeded his own words as he viciously overuses "violet", "violescent", "dialed", "powder" (c'mon, there are dozens of other words to describe snow!), "mottled man", "blanket", and "hirsute", these and others are overused to the point of sheer anno Gripping crime thriller that owes no small debt to the works of Vachss, Leonard, and Lansdale. Zahler has a solid grasp of the English vernacular, but as one of the characters chastises a comrade on page 263: "learn some synonyms." The author should have heeded his own words as he viciously overuses "violet", "violescent", "dialed", "powder" (c'mon, there are dozens of other words to describe snow!), "mottled man", "blanket", and "hirsute", these and others are overused to the point of sheer annoyance (and one wonders why the editor didn't catch their repetition). Other than these shortcomings, the book is a taut and captivating read for those that like hard-boiled violence.

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