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When last we saw Max Fisher and Angela Petrakos, Max was being arrested by the NYPD for drug trafficking and Angela was fleeing the country in the wake of a brutal murder. Now both are headed for eye-opening encounters with the law —Max in the cell blocks of Attica, Angela in a quaint little prison on the Greek island of Lesbos...

First publication ever!

Booklist on THE MAX: "A pleasure of the guiltiest kind, like No Country for Old Men as directed by Mel Brooks."

Two of the hottest authors in crime fiction today, Bruen and Starr have been nominated for or won almost every award in the field: the Edgar, the Shamus, the Barry, the Anthony, the Macavity, and more

BUST and SLIDE both received rave reviews from Entertainment Weekly and other major publications

Acclaim for the work of Bruen and Starr...

"Two of the century s best thriller writers have joined forces to bring a postmodern twist to the black heart of noir fiction."

—The Rocky Mountain News

"You want to read a good, mean book? Grab this new paperback thriller."

—Entertainment Weekly

"Vulgar, demented, violent, twisted, amoral, and hilarious... some of the funniest dialogue this side of Elmore Leonard."

—Otto Penzler, The New York Sun

220 pages, Paperback

First published August 26, 2008

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About the author

Ken Bruen

149 books762 followers
Ken Bruen, born in Galway in 1951, is the author of The Guards (2001), the highly acclaimed first Jack Taylor novel. He spent twenty-five years as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, S.E. Asia and South America. His novel Her Last Call to Louis Mac Niece (1997) is in production for Pilgrim Pictures, his "White Trilogy" has been bought by Channel 4, and The Guards is to be filmed in Ireland by De Facto Films.

He has won Two Shamus awards by Private Eye Writers of America for the best detective fiction genre novel of the year for The Guards(2004) and The Dramatist(2007).

He has also received The Best series Award in February 2007 for the Jack Taylor novels from The Crime Writers Association

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5 stars
191 (28%)
4 stars
230 (34%)
3 stars
168 (24%)
2 stars
59 (8%)
1 star
28 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 71 reviews
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,926 reviews10.6k followers
August 14, 2009
Since the last Bruen and Starr Hard Case effort, Max Fisher has been thrown in the hoosegow for his illegal dealings and Angela is on the run. Max lands in Attica and starts making enemies all over the place. Angela meets up with a suave Englishman who isn't what he seems. Throw in a prison riot, a murdered landlord, and an author who is obsessed with the M.A.X. and there you have it.

If you've read the other two Bruen and Starr books in the Hard Case line, you already know about Angela and her rotten choices in men and Max's line of bullshit. They're the same characters they've been in the previous two books. Every time Max, or The M.A.X. as he refers to himself, opens his mouth, I cringe a little. Not because of the writing but because Max is a dead ringer for a boss I used to have. He was a conceited douchebag too.

While I enjoyed reading about Max making the dog's breakfast out of his prison stay, Angela's part of the story wasn't much different than in her other two appearances. I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I enjoyed this book, it wasn't quite as good as Slide or Bust, although the prison setting was interesting. If you've been following the unsympathetic protagonists this far, you might as well give this one a shot. I wouldn't start my Hard Case experience with it, though.
Profile Image for Still.
574 reviews82 followers
September 10, 2016

Slapstick Crime with Bruen & Starr having too much fun with the inside jokes.

Max does jail time in this one ...some of this is almost Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder "Stir Crazy" funny.
Almost but not quite though it's not for a lack of trying by the two authors.

Once again the mega-delusional Max has trouble distinguishing reality from the movie-in-his-head.
Meanwhile, Angela has her own issues placing installments on the dues she owes the karma bank.

The additional zany characters Max and Angela encounter throughout their respective odysseys kick this to a new level of crazy.

I'm giving this 4 stars though I should feel ashamed.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,822 followers
December 13, 2016
This is the third in a series with Bust and Slide being the first two, and they're getting harder to read with each book. Not because they're bad stories or poorly written, but because the main characters are just such deluded, self-absorbed, evil scum that I could barely finish this one. And I don't need my characters to be 'good'. It's just that these are so idiotic and pathetic that I feared I'd have a stroke while reading about them.

The authors have a terrific ability to put you in the mindset of Max and Angela. And unfortunately, it's no place you want to be. Max is an arrogant fool who gets all his knowledge from movies and thinks he's the coolest thing ever when in reality he's a middle-aged jerk who eventually becomes a wannabe gangster. Angela is a bombshell who thinks she's using her body to con men, but she's usually the one that gets taken.

It made for great reading in Bust and started wearing me down in Slide. But I spent most of the book hoping that this was a trilogy and that Max and Angela would both finally meet their ends. While I like these books, I don't know if I can face spending any more time with the remaining character if they do another one.
Profile Image for Paul.
528 reviews21 followers
June 7, 2021
At the time of writing, i am half-way through 'Pimp', the fourth of the Max & Angela series and i have to say 'The Max' is my favorite. That is, imo, the funniest of the four books in this series.
Profile Image for Javier Muñoz.
791 reviews70 followers
September 7, 2021
He cometido una torpeza con esta novela, la comencé sin saber que era parte de una serie, y para cuando me di cuenta de que era el tercero y que no había leído los anteriores ya estaba demasiado enganchado para soltarlo... en todo caso se puede leer de forma independiente, aunque ahora que lo he leído me tocará tirar para atrás para conocer las anteriores aventuras de Max y Angela.

Max Fisher es un tipejo bastante impresentable un cincuentón gordo y con poco pelo, con personalidad tóxica y comportamiento bastante reprochable que durante los últimos años ha pasado de CEO de una empresa informática, a capo del narcotráfico y finalmente ha terminado en la cárcel de Ática por encargarle a un sicario el asesinato de su esposa (todo esto pasa en las anteriores novelas, pero se dice lo justo acerca de estos sucesos para que te entre la curiosidad si no las has leído). El caso es que contra todo pronóstico y en circunstancias poco claras Max termina siendo uno de los presos más temidos de la prisión y saca todo el provecho posible a esta situación.

Por otro lado tenemos a Angela, antigua amante de Max que tiene sus propios problemas con la ley en Europa que le llevarán a volver a Estados Unidos sin blanca, pudiendo recurrir sólo a Max. También tenemos a una novelista que se pasa al género del "true crime" para contar la historia de Max, un vividor británico que busca arrimarse a mujeres ricas para apropiarse de su fortuna, un mercenario ex miembro del IRA... todo personajes que no caen especialmente bien y con los que es muy complicado identificarse ya sea por su personalidad o falta de ella... El caso es que los autores montan con este reparto una historia que resulta una especie de mezcla de serie negra - hard boiled con comedia de enredo que tiene momentos descacharrantes.

Se lee rápidamente y es muy divertida, como digo esta es la tercera novela de la serie así que es mejor empezar por la primera, "bust", yo voy a leerla inmediatamente.
Profile Image for Mr. Matt.
288 reviews82 followers
December 10, 2013
Once again I was disappointed in the story of Max & Angela.

I am a bit taken aback at how low my rating was for this book versus the first, but I think it is deserved. The first volume, Bust, was laugh out loud funny. Like the second volume, Slide, the final book was more annoying than funny. The Max, like Slide, also lacked the deeper message of the first volume. In Bust I saw a cautionary tale similar to Fargo - don't invite evil into your life.

By the end of the book I was hoping that something terrible would happen to each and everyone of the major characters. The only redeeming characters in the whole story were the minor ones and usually something bad happened to those guys.

A sad two stars. I wanted to rate this book higher given how much I liked Bust, but I just couldn't.
Profile Image for TK421.
556 reviews261 followers
October 18, 2014
There are few literary rides as rough as this one. The twists and turns and menacing events that mix with pop-culture references and humor make this story truly an original. The problem is: There is just too much of everything. Too much violence. Too much pop-culture. Too much humor. Too much of cookie-cutter characters acting like puppets. I wanted more from this. Perhaps I wanted too much. 'Tis a fun read...if you want too much of everything.
Profile Image for David.
Author 49 books47 followers
August 7, 2009
Unless you adored Slide, the second entry in the Max Fisher saga, there is not much reason to read the third. In The Max, the same noir comique schtick is in place, right down to the heavy-handed in-jokes, which are stretched even thinner this time around. The best plan: Read Bust, the first and best entry in the series, and then stop.
Profile Image for Mark.
Author 1 book16 followers
January 14, 2011
The first in this series, BUST (which could be read as a sort of over-the-top homage/parody of the genre of madcap ensemble-cast crime novels Elmore Leonard created the blueprint for) was good fun. The second in the series, SLIDE, was a disappointment. This one, the third, is just dreadful: the core narrative structure is not bad, but the book reads as if it was written in one afternoon over several bottles of Jameson's. Which might have been a lot of fun for the writers, but was considerably less so for this reader. It would be a shame if this book put other readers off from discovering the quite good books both authors have written (start with THE GUARDS by Bruen and COLD CALLER by Starr). Also, all the in-jokes for crime fiction fans in this one really wore thin for me pretty quickly.
Profile Image for Jesse.
245 reviews4 followers
October 3, 2008
Sleazy trash, but in an energetic way. Wannabe gangster and sleaze Max Fisher, a paunchy loudmouth with delusions of...well, not grandeur, but criminal badness, in a sort of innocent way ("was he the only guy in the world over fifty who was into drugs and shooting people?") ends up in Attica; his ex, hottie Angela Petrakos, is in Greece with a louche thief who's a Tom Ripley homage; plus there's a true-crime writer who sniffs a big story...then you get a women's prison, a male prison riot, trash, drugs, random killing, the IRA. Honestly, what's not to like?
Profile Image for Andy.
Author 14 books136 followers
September 22, 2008
Although I hated Bruen & Starr's other books and I generally hate prison novels I thought this was pretty entertaining trash. Note to writers: next time lay off the in-crowd references, we already know Megan Abbott is awesome. Best Hard Case Crime cover ever.
Profile Image for Derek.
Author 17 books4 followers
February 22, 2012
The end of the Max and Angela trilogy. Another hilarious and dark descent down the noir rabbit hole. Really hilarious and outrageous stuff that never takes itself seriously. It's fun to see two writers get together and have a literary laugh like this. They make it look so easy.
Profile Image for Kirk.
Author 40 books219 followers
Want to read
August 19, 2008
Oh, yeah. I now have a reason to live to the weekend.
Profile Image for Martin Sharp.
164 reviews3 followers
January 23, 2018
Hilariously funny. The M.A.X. may be the greatest drug-dealing, gangster, killer ever. Or just a deluded nutcase. Either way I can't wait for the film!!
Profile Image for Mike.
302 reviews14 followers
September 7, 2017
Well, the best thing I can say about "The MAX," by Bruen and Starr is that the cover art is nice. The book itself is "shite." All suspension of disbelief is thrown out the window when Max Fisher--former software mogul and self-styled drug kingpin--doesn't die horribly on his first day in Attica. He goes from sheer terror--over his giant cellmate being about to rape him--to basically running Attica. Just...ridiculous.

The authors have decided to give up actually writing anything realistic and just keep serving the reader one insanely self-deluded character after another in an ever more ridiculous series of moronic plot twists. In "The MAX," the authors turn their focus on the publishing world with the character of Paula Segal, a mediocre mystery writer who sees the Max Fisher story as her way out of the doldrums of her current career slump. The droll asides and wannabe witty in-jokes fly fast and furious. Lee Child (who writes those idiotic "Jack Reach-around" novels) gets several mentions, as well as some other authors that I assume must be real people. The authors can't decide if they want to suck up to or deride Hard Case Crime books and Charles Ardai/Richard Aleas, the head honcho of Hard Case. This is the authors airing dirty laundry and trying to make sour grapes into wine. Good luck with that, "boyos."

The same things are wrong with "The MAX" as with the previous novels in the series. Just in more and more obnoxious quantities. Too much "authentic" Irish jabbering. Every character is psychotically self-deluded and narcissistic--or just a moron. Lots of "ha-ha" moments about Angela giving the whole world genital herpes (just...disgusting). And so on.

What's Angela up to while Max is taking over Attica? She's off in Greece hooking up with a British con man, Sebastian, and having her own unrealistic adventures. She gets raped, murders her rapist, gets thrown into jail on the isle of Lesbos (literally) and yet doesn't have any lesbian action (that's Paula's gig). She does reunite with Max towards the end, however briefly. And we're led to believe that she dies at the end. But she doesn't--she's in the next book, too.

If you've enjoyed the first two books in this series and are eager for more...well, there's no helping what's wrong with you.

As for me, I'm reading the last book of the series--"PIMP"--which is just more of the same crap. For me, all this started when a friend (frenemy?) gave me PIMP, not knowing (or caring) that it was the fourth book in a series. I don't read books out of order in a series if I can help it. And once I finish the fourth book, I'll sell or donate the whole series. I don't want to accidentally mistake these books for something I like.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,484 reviews12.8k followers
April 20, 2023
I was waiting for it and it finally happened: I read a bad book by Ken Bruen! Though to be fair to old Ken, he co-wrote this one with Jason Starr, a writer whose work I’ve encountered before (and which also coincidentally has Max in the title: Wolverine MAX, Vol 1: Permanent Rage) and was thoroughly bored by. So I’m putting the sub-par quality of The Max squarely on Starr’s involvement.

Like Bruen’s Jack Taylor series, I’m reading the Max Fisher/Angela Petrakos series out of order - The Max is the third book in the four-book series - but it’s not hard to pick up what’s going on. Basically, Max and Angela have a history and are apart for most of this book because Max is going to Attica Prison while she’s fannying about in Greece.

That’s also the problem: nothing much is going on. Nearly all of Max’s chapters are about him carrying on in prison, worrying about getting raped, and escaping from run-ins in the most contrived fashion, while Angela’s cast in the role of sexploitive character a la the pulp novels of yesteryear that Hard Case Crime (a publisher that has yet to put out anything good) apes. Bruen/Starr toss in the occasional killing to keep the reader awake as most of the time you’re gonna be drifting off with all the bupkis going on.

The tone of the novel and characters are a lot sillier than in Bruen’s usual stories. Think Tom Sharpe or Carl Hiaasen, assuming those names mean anything to you, in terms of campy humour. Max, Sebastian (a British con man) and Paula Segal (a hack writer desperate for attention) are all bumbling idiots careening from one unlikely predicament to another in slapstick fashion.

The antics get tiresome after a fashion but they’re occasionally amusing and not terribly done either. Thankfully Bruen seems to be more in control when it comes to the actual writing because the prose is easy to read and flows well, like they normally do in his novels. But the story of The Max was too slight and the novel overall was much too easy to put down. I do recommend Ken Bruen’s work but I’d steer clear of his collabs with Jason “One” Starr.
Profile Image for Dave.
3,013 reviews331 followers
July 21, 2017

The story begins with high powered executive Max asking his sexy secretary, the one he was having an affair with, if she knew a hitman he could pay to off his wife. What follows is a tragic comedy that blows up in Max's face. The Slide continues the story but with Max becoming the funniest hip hop middle aged drug dealer in Manhattan and Angela ( the secretary) hooking up with a serial killer in Dublin and returning to finish it out with Max. In the Max, Max is now in maximum security in Attica and figuring out how to save his butt while being caught between several prison gangs. Angela, the nastiest femme fatale of modern times, is in Greece, but has to flee to escape a murder rap, ending up in prison herself. The book is lightning fast reading and is just plain crazy.
Profile Image for Steve.
555 reviews18 followers
July 16, 2019
I hadn't read any novels about these two characters before. There is a lot of good action, and lots of the dialog is interesting, particularly Max who in prison pretends (not very convincingly to me, but is to the other inmates) to be a hard case, a murderer etc. But I didn't find the humor, with all the in-jokes about other mystery novels, very engaging or for the most part even funny. I gave it a 3, mostly for the cover art.
Profile Image for Oli Turner.
252 reviews3 followers
April 4, 2022
The forty seventh hard_case_crime novel completed and its the third appearance of max & angela A darkly comic tale full of unexpected overlapping narratives with quirky characters. A particular highlight was seeing how a character viewed themselves and then seeing how other characters viewed them. We all lie to ourselves in one way or another. Very funny and outrageous and violent
20 reviews
December 24, 2022
I’m honestly not a huge fan of this series of books despite having read them all. They’re all a bit too profane and rely on trite stereotypes.

That said, this one was a better read than the others. The pacing felt better and I already knew enough about Angela and Max to know what I was in for reading.

Still, not something I’d highly recommend.
Profile Image for Dave.
3,013 reviews331 followers
June 26, 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed all three novels of the Bust trilogy, Bust, Slide,and the Max. These are three hysterically funny tongue-in-cheek crime novels. That they are the product of a collaboration between two authors is even more amazing. The trilogy begins with high powered executive Max asking his hot secretary, the one he was having an affair with, if she knew a hitman he could pay to off his wife. What follows is a tragic comedy that blows up in Max's face. The Slide continues the story but with Max becoming the funniest hip hop middle aged drug dealer in Manhattan and Angela ( the secretary) hooking up with a serial killer in Dublin and returning to finish it out with Max. In the Max, Max is now in maximum security in Attica and figuring out how to save his butt while being caught between several prison gangs. Angela, the nastiest femme fatale of modern times, is in Greece, but has to flee to escape a murder rap, ending up in prison herself.
The book is lightning fast reading and is just plain crazy.
Profile Image for Andrew F.
161 reviews1 follower
July 8, 2018
A considerable improvement on Slide, it isn’t really up to the standard of Bust and it doesn’t stand on its own either, but it is very fast paced, tense entertainment and I enjoyed every moment of it. Interested in carrying on with the final book, Pimp.
Profile Image for Chris.
Author 2 books20 followers
January 2, 2018
I knew I wasn't going to like this book, but it's one of two of the original Hardcase Crime run that I hadn't read yet, so for completionism, I made myself read it, and it wa just as stupid as I expected it to be, but at least it was short.
327 reviews11 followers
June 15, 2018
If you like your crime fiction dark with a side of brutal humor, this series of books is a real treat.
Profile Image for Paul.
646 reviews
June 30, 2019
Probably the best book in the series. The plot threads are brought together well at the end, as all the main characters meet at the satisfying conclusion.
Profile Image for Vaelin.
297 reviews51 followers
November 7, 2019
This series just gets more outlandish as it goes on but it is still a heap of fun.

If you get offended easily, then this is NOT the book for you!
Profile Image for Troy.
969 reviews
January 20, 2021
Wonderful 3rd entry in a series. A lot of story packed into a 5 hour audiobook. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Robert.
667 reviews9 followers
March 3, 2021
No surprises here. Delivers the goods. I’m not getting the joke in the ending.
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