I haven’t found the Word file for Trouble Comes Back yet, so I probably need to find a scanner and some OCR software and get all the text out of the hardcover, but here’s how I’m thinking.

And here’s what the product description will say:


Jason Keltner, Robert Goldstein, and Martin Altamirano are lifelong friends. They eke out a living on the edges of the entertainment industry in Southern California and fall into thwarting an occasional criminal caper. This time out, a chance encounter with burned-out rock legend Dwight Cooper, aka Uncle Trouble, turns them into bodyguards for Dwight’s young daughter, who is in danger of being kidnapped. There’s art in the artlessness of this deft little crime novel. The plot and pacing seem a little haphazard, but the three main characters are well crafted, complex, and whole. Lesser characters are vividly drawn, and the interplay between characters is skillfully handled. Snyder has an especially fine way with dialogue, and the verbal shorthand that longtime friends might employ rings true. And, maybe best of all, the obscure, playful allusions to such philosophers as Godel and Heisenberg reflect the author’s respect for his readers’ intelligence. A delight for discerning crime-fiction fans.

—Thomas Gaughan


In a year that has already seen some excellent output in the mystery genre, Trouble Comes Back is one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve encountered.

The strength of the author’s book is not in the story — although that part is certainly adequate. Keith Snyder’s power is in his writing and his characterization. Any misgivings about not understanding or identifying with the three amigos he has created (Jason Keltner, Robert Goldstein, Martin Altamirano) were laid to rest with passages like the following, where Jason asks his recovering addict buddy what was the hardest part about giving up drugs:

“When you go on drugs… Whatever your emotional age was, stop
the clock. Say you start using when you’re fourteen, and you
stop when you’re twenty. You get to start the clock again right
where you stopped it. It was eight-thirteen in the monrning when
you stopped the clock? Well, guess what, bud, it’s eight-thirteen
now. Everybody else you know, they had that time to grow up, but
while they were making progress and doing the work, you were off
in a little suspended animation cocoon called ‘I’m getting high’.”

The relative age of the characters makes no difference in a book featuring that depth of insight. And throughout Trouble Comes Back, Keith Snyder pens sequence after sequence that advances three intensely emotional, intellectually solid young men to the pages before your eyes. Twentysomethings or not, these guys have values that are as powerful, and even politically correct, as you’re likely to find in earlier genre tough-guy tropes—a sense for family preservation, protective tenderness for children, attentiveness to work ethic, and what is necessary to move forward. Coupled to this underlying core of decency is a keen eye for the times and a sharp sense of humor…

Jason, Robert, and Martin remind me of Travis McGee and his buddy, Meyer — they just do their thing, and if they have an opportunity to help someone, and that opportunity might earn a few bucks, whatthehell. The theme of Trouble Comes Back deals with children caught in parental battles, the destructive nature of ambivalent love, and the value of friendship—all excellent, time-worn topics, well-told by a fresh new voice. From that perspective, there are no “gray areas” surrounding Keith Snyder’s book. It’s now on my Top Ten List for 1999.


This book has so much going for it. It’s literate, sophisticated, funny and fast. It gets inside LA’s struggling, freelance artist world completely and with real affection. It presents a model of male friendship that is unusually honest and deep.
—Ben and Julie Kaufmann


1 Comment

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