I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get.
I read Laurence Shames's books when they came out in print about twenty years ago, and I loved them then. The audio version, at least of this book, is even better. Shames is one of a very few authors who can sustain a funny book throughout its length. The cast of characters is just wonderful: Aaron Katz, the brand-new B and B owner and refugee from NYC, his increasingly deaf dad Sam, a retired mobster named Bert the Shirt, who constantly carries around an ancient, wheezing Chihuahua, two guys named Fred and Pineapple who live in a big hot dog, etc. Your villains are several Russian Mafia guys with very Russian-sounding names, including a bizarrely buffed up guy named Tarzan Abramovitz. The heroine, Sookie Sperakis, is a fully drawn woman, and the romance between Aaron and Sookie is touching and real. The setting is Key West, where anything goes. The narrator, Richard Ferrone, is spectacular. His voicing of Bert the Shirt is so funny that you listen keenly for every word. This is not great literature: that is not what Shames was shooting for. It is fun. At the time there was a group of Florida writers who were all talented and some funny: Carl Hiassen, Randy Wayne White and a few others. Shames stopped writing, I believe, when he ran out of gags. This takes courage, as a huge number of writers just keep pumping it out, long after their inspiration is gone. Get this book. You will LOL, ROFL and LYour AO. (Ask a teenager for translations if you need them.)
This is the second book in the Liam Mulligan series, and I hope there are many more brewing in the mind of Mr. DeSilva. Mulligan is a throwback, a reporter who works in the palpably dying newspaper industry in Providence, Rhode Island. I know almost nothing about Providence, other than the fact that a former mayor named Rudy Cianci did about four years in a federal prison for corruption. The atmosphere created by DeSilva and Workman oozes corruption like a dead body stinks, if I may. The killings come fast and furious. This is not great literature, but it is great fun, and Mr. Workman in particular is the ideal narrator. His voicings are exactly right. There is a minor love story which tantalizes you, and in which you find yourself wanting to put words in Mulligan's mouth. There are numerous distractions, including the ex-wife, Dorcas, whose customized ring tone on Mulligan's phone is the first few bars of the song "Bitch." The action converges from multiple fronts, and, like most terrific thriller writers, I dare you to guess whodunit. I just could not stop listening to this. There are chuckles and rueful sighs, as we listen to Mulligan's world circle the drain. He is left standing, but the lessons he learns are bitter. It is only the skill of both Mr. DeSilva and of Mr. Workman which is sweet, indeed. Read on.
Parker was so prolific for so long that it is sometimes hard to tell one book from another. I may have confused my review of Early Autumn with this one. If so, forgive me. At 63. whatever, the memory begins to fade...perhaps some of you are familiar with this phenomenon.
In any case, this is the book in which Spenser and Susan Silverman meet, and it presages a long, passionate affair in which the two never live together, but maintain their love and commitment to each other. The plot involves a kidnapping of a fifteen-year-old boy for $50,000, money his parents have to borrow. The parents have very serious problems. Spenser is drawn into a spider's web of iniquity and evil-doing, the likes of which the title of the book would never even hint at. Everyone is corrupt, and Spenser is like a dog with a bone: he is so determined that he never lets go. Susan helps him as a consultant, but we soon realize that the work she does is parallel: her clinical work involves her solving the nexus of her patients' lives, just as Spenser's work draws him into the dark side of their lives.
Spenser is so funny that you often can't stop giggling long enough to take him seriously.
This book is also pre-Hawk. Spenser is without his wing-man, and has to ride to the rescue with only his resources. Fortunately, these are considerable. The team of Spenser and Susan is a winner, and will survive decades of very satisfying work. Enjoy this. Few writers can approach Parker in talent, humor, plot or character development.