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Always Say Goodbye: A Lew Fonesca Mystery Hardcover – November 28, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In MWA Grand Master Kaminsky's psychologically layered fifth Lew Fonesca mystery (after 2005's Denial), the Sarasota, Fla., process server and occasional PI emerges from his clinical depression to start tracking down the hit-and-run driver who killed his wife, Catherine, in Chicago four years earlier. But moments after his tow-truck-driver brother-in-law, Franco, picks him up at Midway Airport, they realize a car is following them. Digging up the past proves to be dangerous work, as Lew finds himself caught between two warring assassins-for-hire who believe Catherine, a prosecutor, had compiled a file of evidence against them and that Lew might know of its existence. Kaminsky paves Lew's road from depression to acceptance of Catherine's death with sufficient bumps and frissons to keep readers hurtling along to the very end. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Kaminsky has a knack for creating oddball characters in rollicking plots. Lew Fonesca is one of the more recent additions to the Kaminsky stable, which includes old-time Hollywood sleuth Toby Peters, Moscow Inspector Rostnikov, and Chicago cop Abe Lieberman. A wreck of a man, Fonesca is perhaps Kaminsky's darkest character, a man still reeling from grief after his wife's death by a hit-and-run driver in Chicago four years previously. The earlier books in the Fonesca series showed him scraping by as a process server in Sarasota, clinging to his depression but sometimes coaxed into solving other people's problems. This time Lew's octogenarian therapist has coaxed him into returning to Chicago to find his wife's killer. This is good for Lew but bad for the plot, which turns implausible when Lew determines far too quickly who is responsible for his wife's death. Transplanting Lew to Chicago is like trying to transplant a palm tree--it looks good for a while but quickly loses color. Followers of the series will want to read this one, but it's definitely not one of the best. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Lew Fonesca (Book 5)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; First Edition edition (November 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765316013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765316011
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,871,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stuart M. Kaminsky (1934-2009) was one of the most prolific crime fiction authors of the last four decades. Born in Chicago, he spent his youth immersed in pulp fiction and classic cinema--two forms of popular entertainment which he would make his life's work. After college and a stint in the army, Kaminsky wrote film criticism and biographies of the great actors and directors of Hollywood's Golden Age. In 1977, when a planned biography of Charlton Heston fell through, Kaminsky wrote Bullet for a Star, his first Toby Peters novel, beginning a fiction career that would last the rest of his life.

Kaminsky penned twenty-four novels starring the detective, whom he described as "the anti-Philip Marlowe." In 1981's Death of a Dissident, Kaminsky debuted Moscow police detective Porfiry Rostnikov, whose stories were praised for their accurate depiction of Soviet life. His other two series starred Abe Lieberman, a hardened Chicago cop, and Lew Fonseca, a process server. In all, Kaminsky wrote more than sixty novels. He died in St. Louis in 2009.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When a hit-and-run driver kills Lewis Fonesca's beloved wife, Catherine, he flees to Sarasota, Florida to wallow in his misery. "He wanted each day to be a dark blanket that no one pulled back to let in the light." Lew has a bare bones existence in two nondescript rooms behind a Dairy Queen and ekes out a minimal living as a process server. However, in spite of his desire to isolate himself, Lew makes friends, seeks counseling, and even helps people with their personal problems. One day, he decides to visit Chicago to find out who ran Catherine down and why. He says goodbye to his buddies, Ames McKinney and Flo Zink, his girlfriend, Sally Porovsky, and his eighty-two year-old therapist, Ann Horowitz. Lew knows that a man must always say goodbye to those he cares about, because each time he sees them may be the last.

During his stay in Chicago, Lew reunites with his sister, Angela Massaccio, and her husband, Franco, a macho tow-truck driver who helps Lew hunt for Catherine's killer. Before long, two strangers tail them and someone takes a shot at them; later, Lew and Franco find the body of a murder victim and witness a shocking act of self-destruction. Along the way, they meet some unusual characters, including John Pappas, a wealthy agoraphobic with an aggressive mother and a weakness for Greek pastry, John's overly obedient sons, Dimi and Stavros, and Milt Holiger, who works for the Cook County State Attorney's Office. Milt's connections allow him to gather vital information that help Lew in his quest.

"Always Say Goodbye" has an offbeat and unpredictable plot, plenty of black humor, and a thought-provoking exploration of grief, depression, and family relationships.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If award-winning mystery novelist Stuart M. Kaminsky chose a profession other than writing, there is no doubt that he would become a juggler. In that profession Kaminsky could take advantage of the talent he exhibits as an author, currently maintaining at least four ongoing mystery series with main characters as individual and unique as snowflakes. Kaminsky is the creator of Hollywood detective Toby Peters, Chicago police officer Abe Lieberman, Russian sleuth Inspector Rostnikov and Florida private investigator Lew Fonesca.

In total, Kaminsky lists 50 mystery novels in his bibliography and also has found time to publish five biographies, four textbooks and four movie screenplays. With this resume, it is not surprising that the former college professor was awarded the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Grandmaster Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

ALWAYS SAY GOODBYE is the fifth appearance of Lew Fonesca, formerly of Chicago but now a resident of Sarasota, Florida. Four years ago, Fonesca's wife was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in Chicago. She was a prosecutor in Cook County, and Fonesca was an investigator in that same office. In torment over her death, Fonesca fled Illinois and drove south until he decided to stop in Sarasota. He now works as a private investigator out of a cheap office near the Dairy Queen off Highway 301. Fonesca struggles to earn a living as a process server, occasionally helping others get out of difficult situations and fighting the ghosts of his former life.

As the novel opens, Fonesca decides that it is time to go back to Chicago to find the person responsible for his wife's death. He returns to the city and is met at Midway Airport by his brother-in-law Franco.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William E. Adams on February 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Please, please, if you are interested in this "mystery" series, read the five volumes IN ORDER. That way, you grieve with the hero, Lew Fonesca, who after being widowed runs away to Florida and tries to hide from life. You pick up along with him a friend here, an enemy there, a potential girlfriend, people to protect, a therapist, tiny cracks in his wall of depression, etc. The first four books are equally wonderful. In this one, he goes home to Chicago, finds the guy who ran over his wife, finds out why, and gets entangled in a couple of other bizarre plots as well. However, it just does not have the same magic as the prior entries. The supporting cast is not as interesting. We discover along with Lew that Sarasota has now become his home after four years, despite his occupying only two rooms in nearly abandoned building, one for an office, one for a bed. In Florida he does not even own a car or a pet, and he avoids human contact more than seeks it out. Yet that lonely life in near-poverty, when compared to his old one but without his wife, is clearly superior. I fear that those who read this one first will not be inspired to read the first four episodes. Better luck next time you turn to Lew for a book, Mr. Kaminsky. You are such a prolific and pleasing writer, all your fans can forgive one minor imperfect release.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco VINE VOICE on September 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
For a thriller, this book sure is talky. Lew leaves Florida on the advice of his therapist, heading Chicago to track down the murderer of his beloved wife Catherine. It's difficult to believe that a psychologist would make such a suggestion, especially knowing of the likelihood that more death will occur. Anyway, the action, such as it is, begins almost immediately, with someone following Lew's car as he's leaving the airport. From that point, the plot drags on. Lew is tipped off about the identity of the killer, but before he can corner him, he must wade through endless scenes involving threats from various street thugs, family scenes in which a murderous Greek grandmother bakes delicious treats, and Lew's own ruminations in which he decides he cannot let go of his depression because it will take him away from Catherine completely. Shades of Monk here. Perhaps fans of this series will embrace the opportunity to move forward with their hero, but be prepared for some long dull stretches before Lew can come to terms with his inner demons.

(Stuart Kaminsky died from hepatitis in October, 2009.)
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