Austin S. Camacho’s third novel, Damaged Goods, in his Hannibal Jones series, is not as successful as his debut novel, Collateral Damage, but is much better than The Troubleshooter.
Millionaire Benjamin Blair hires PI troubleshooter Hannibal Jones to find the psychopath who seduced his Black maid Anita Cooper and stole from her a formula worth millions of dollars that her pharmaceutical chemist father left her. Although Benjamin is generous toward his maid, he also wants the formula for his company.
Vernon Cooper, a Black pharmaceutical chemical genius, came up with a formula for curing addictions but kept it from his employer, a large pharmaceutical company. While serving time in prison for a hit and run accident, he meets Roderick Mantooth to whom he reveals the existence of the formula and the fact he left it with his daughter.
Rod creates the “damaged goods” of the title, women he seduces using BDSM, (bondage, discipline or domination, submission, masochism) to make them his slaves. The problem Hannibal faces is how to get into Rod’s group to find where he has hidden the formula. The case takes him into the unfamiliar, unsettling, and dangerous world of BDSM. Hannibal as a bad dude into kinky sex games while maintaining his integrity is the force driving the plot toward an unexpected and disappointing conclusion.
I enjoyed the humor of Hannibal posing as a bad dude into BDSM, and his attempt to make a rap CD to impress his young teenage friend Monty, the grandson of Mother Washington, the matriarch of the neighborhood where they live. He wants to save Monty from a life on the mean streets of Washington DC.
Hannibal has in his pocket an engagement ring and plans to ask girlfriend Cindy to marry him, which makes for pleasant suspense of will he or will he not pop the question. A married hardboiled PI would be a nice departure from tradition.
Although Damaged Goods is a routine crime story with no surprises (the ending ,though unexpected, isn’t a surprise), it is still an exciting novel with plenty of the usual fisticuffs and gunplay characteristic of Camacho’s other novels, and well worth your time if you like the action of watching the hero take down the bad guy as I do.