You might have met Baruch "Buck" Schatz in the debut book in this series, 2012's Don't Ever Get Old. Buck is 88 years old, a veteran who made it through a Nazi POW camp (an especially bad place for a Jew), and who served for many years as a detective in the Memphis police department.
Buck has been retired for more years than he worked in the MPD, and now he and his wife, Rose, have had to go into assisted living because of the injuries he suffered as a result of his shenanigans in Don't Ever Get Old. Buck doesn't like assisted living, but then he doesn't like much of anything or anybody. He's an ornery, contrary old cuss; even more so now that he has to use a walker and spend a lot of time considering the state of his bowels.
Set in the present (2009) and back in 1965, the novel tells the tale of Buck's complicated history with Elijah, an Auschwitz survivor who decided that the world is chaos and he would be a part of that, making a career as a criminal mastermind. In 2009, Elijah contacts Buck and says that even though the last time Buck saw him he vowed to kill him, Elijah trusts only Buck to help him turn himself in to the authorities and avoid criminals who are after his hide.
Buck's plan to accomplish Elijah's arrest goes completely haywire and Buck can't resist trying to find out what happened and why. This is interspersed with Buck's story of his first run-in with Elijah in 1965, when Buck was sure Elijah planned to incite a police riot against striking workers as a diversion to allow him to rob a bank.
If you did read the first Buck Schatz book, you might be expecting a similarly sardonically funny book. Well, yes and no. Buck's dialog and observations are still just as fine-honed, but the overall tone is dark. The 1965 Buck was fine with his own form of justice, delivered with a truncheon or a gun. He believed in protecting his family and the reputation of his people, but had a lot less sympathy for others; for example, the black men striking for fair wages and working conditions. This puts him at odds with his son, Brian, just at a time when Brian is preparing for his bar mitzvah and becoming a man.
The 1965 bank robbery plot and the 2009 plot are both fiendishly clever, and Daniel Friedman pulls no punches about the physical and mental pains of growing old. Buck will never go gentle into that good night. If you're ready for a more noir-tinged Buck Schatz adventure, give this one a read.
Note: Thanks to the publisher, Minotaur Books, for providing an advance reading copy.