Mark Zaslove received Emmy Awards for his involvement with “TaleSpin” and “The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” in the early 1990s. He also received the Humanitas Award in 1989 in the Children’s Animation Category, and was nominated twice more since then. Zaslove has worked with all of the major production studios. Yes, all of them. After many years of writing scripts for television and movies, he decided to give it a go with a novel, another medium I see massive success in.
His debut novel, “DEATH AND TAXES: TALES OF A BADASS IRS AGENT”, is the first in “a series of fast-paced thrillers following the escapades of IRS agent Mark Douglas and his band of merry revenuers as they bring justice to those in great need of same, while collecting your Federal dollars along the way.” He is right about one thing; it is certainly a fast-paced thriller. Hopefully, it is the first of many to come.
I knew this book was going to be an interesting one just based on the very first sentence, “A dog’s head on a stick.” Zaslove opens with a scene of IRS Agent Mark Douglas and his crew of men at a home to seize property worth over six grand. After diving away from a flying toilet, headstrong teammate Miguel ran in to receive a swift kick in the groin. At least it gave the rest of the so-called “Bang Squad”, including bald-headed, sober Wooly Bob and slightly afraid-to-be-vigilante Harry, a quick laugh.
Agent Douglas considers himself to be an accountant that gets to “physically do unto others what they think we’re already doing unto them with the income tax.” We meet Lila in Chapter 2 with a joke about how she hops from man to man. Lila was the head of the department and knew every inner working or the IRS and could calculate tax codes and hyper speed. Unfortunately, the story went on to involve Douglas drowning his sorrows in tequila when he finds out she has been killed.
This was the first time Douglas had been able to be angry in many years. The suspect right off the bat was Juju Klondike, a man that was missing some of his nether parts, who may have killed her when she exposed some people that would hire his type of man. The immediate thought was to find out what Lila had found out, leading to the Mongolians. However, before they could truly get their research started, a replacement needed to be found for Lila’s position: Mark Douglas.
As we continue to meet new characters on both sides of the problem, we learn more and more about where the problem began and how everything unfolded. And if you aren’t paying enough attention, you might end up getting the characters mixed up. It wasn’t overwhelming, but I did look back a time or two. Luckily, with his next installment, the main characters will already be known to us. I do love that the end of the book is a reflection of the start, with the Bang Squad nabbing a man for back taxes, Miguel on the ground holding his injured crotch, and a win for the IRS.
Although it is certainly not one of the longest books I’ve read, it does its job of pulling the reader into the drama. Overall, I would give this a recommendation. Some of the metaphors that Zaslove used were hilarious (mostly about JuJu’s lack of private parts).
As I’m writing this in a Starbucks, a man nearby said he had the book at home that he needed to start reading. Hopefully, I gave him more reason to do so!
If Mark Zaslove plays his cards right, I think he could be on the level of Lee Child’s extensive Jack Reacher Series, which has been in publication for well over a decade now. I’m excited to find out how many novels Zaslove is going to expand the series into as there’s no definite end in sight. And hopefully the second one isn’t too far behind!
His book is for sale in paperback and hard cover at Penn Book Center.
You can learn more about Mark Zaslove and his first full-length novel on his site.