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Vinnie's Head Hardcover – March 6, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Lecard, in his endlessly entertaining debut, shows great skill in pacing and characterization. Smalltime Long Island crook Johnnie LoDuco is on the lam after being unjustly fingered as the mastermind of a convenience store heist. While passing the time fishing, he pulls from the water the severed head of his best friend, Vinnie McCloskey-Schmidt, a computer-savvy con artist who had recently promised to bring LoDuco into his business. This grisly discovery leads to an engaging comedy of errors, as LoDuco struggles to stay one step ahead of crooked cops, an amiable serial killer, mobsters and mysterious figures who may be pulling the strings of an international financial conspiracy. The violence, though plentiful, is cartoonish, and Lecard's appealing antihero has a distinctive voice reminiscent of Kinky Friedman's detective alter ego. Sure to appeal to Elmore Leonard fans, this first novel augurs a long and successful career for its author. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Johnnie LoDuco means well. Unfortunately, he's not very bright. He's also lazy, unlucky, and a frequent victim of his justifiably bad reputation. Fresh out of county jail, he has just arrived back in Comapogue, Long Island, when he's nabbed again--this time for a crime he didn't commit (the cops follow a trail of cold cuts from a looted deli to the car where he's catching up with the thieves). He's bailed out by an old friend, who enlists him in a remarkable scam. But when the brains of the operation is decapitated, Johnnie finds himself running from cops, mobsters, and a bounty hunter, all of whom think he might actually know something about what's going on. The farcical complications are balanced by a dry wit, a memorable cast, and the sense that, yeah, you've actually read about chumps like this in the police blotter. Sometimes Johnnie is a bit smart for a dummy, but that's a quibble. This fast and funny read is an original take on the bumbling-criminal genre and will appeal to fans of Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (March 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312360215
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312360214
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,059,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born and raised on Long Island, New York, MARC LECARD now lives at an undisclosed location in Northern California. His two crime novels, Vinnie's Head (2007) and Tiny Little Troubles (2008) were both published by St. Martin's Minotaur. His crime and supernatural short stories have appeared in several anthologies, including Killer Year: Stories to Die For (St. Martin's Minotaur), and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 19 (Running Press).

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Seamlessly interweaving humor into a crime novel is no easy trick. Few authors can pull it off, and fewer still can do it successfully with their first novel. Marc Lecard has done it, however, with "Vinnie's Head", as darkly humorous and entertaining a novel as you'll likely read this year.

Johnnie LoDuco tries his best, but he isn't a very successful criminal. He's been accused of a robbery he didn't even commit, and has been forced to go on the lam. That's when his luck really turns bad. While fishing on Long Island Sound, he inadvertently catches the severed head of Vinnie McCloskey-Schmidt, his best friend and partner in crime.

That discovery sets off a madcap series of adventures, which have Johnnie being chased by a motley crew of mobsters, bent cops and a serial killer who really loves his Mommy. The whole thing would be ridiculous if it weren't so well done and so damn hilarious.

"Vinnie's Head" is not for every taste, but it's definitely for people who like their crime funny, brutal and over-the-top. Lecard is a true find.
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Format: Hardcover
Johnnie LoDuco isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer but he does have dumb luck on his side. After fishing best friend Vinnie's head out of a river near Long Island, Johnnie finds himself in a real pinch. Already on the lam from the cops for a convenience store heist he didn't commit, he now has to decide what to do with his buddies disembodied body part.

The head is the driving force behind everything else that happens in the story. Johnnie carries the head around, locks it in a freezer, even stuffs it in a carrying cooler. And death follows the head. Gangsters, a beautiful fem fatale named Jennifer Smeals, dirty cops, and a pretty young thing that Johnnie falls for named Patrice. On top of this, Johnnie has to try and avoid a bounty hunter named Stosh who's dedication to his profession astonishes both character and reader.

But why is everyone interested in the head? Especially Jennifer Smeals and a local thug named Malatesta? Close examination of it by Johnnie and Patrice reveal nothing except noxious odors. But Paraguay, smut books, computer programs and deadly folk all play a part in what lay ahead for Vinnie's head.

There's a lot of dry wit (perhaps too dry) in author Marc Lecard's debut comedy crime-noir novel but with an ending plot that is -- unfortunately -- over-the-top. Death and redemption go hand-in-hand as Johnnie discovers all of the cons within cons that are designed to divest him not only of money, but probably his life. The overly-complicated ending plot wrap-ups didn't fit well with the dumbed-down LoDuco (the story is told in first person via Johnnie) whom most readers will probably sympathize with and get angry at for not seeing what's right under his nose.

That said, the story is a breezy read (up until the end) and has some chuckle moments but nothing that'll cause serious belly laughs.

A fun read that most readers should be able to finish in one or two sittings.
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Format: Paperback
This book chronicles the misadventures of the hapless and not-so-bright Johnny LoDuco. Johnny doesn't need to look for trouble, as it has a way of finding him. His old high school friend, Vinnie, bails him out (literally) and promises to take him along for the ride of his life. There are many surprises along the way, including Vinnie's disappearance and Johnny's "luck" in fishing Vinnie's severed head out of the Great South Bay. What follows is mystifying, antic and totally captivating. You won't be able to put this book down, as it seamlessly weaves some absurd occurrences with some great plot twists. It will keep you guessing until the end, and laughing all the way.
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Format: Hardcover
Vinnie's Head, a novel by Marc Lecard, gets its title from the fact that the severed head of Vincent McCloskey-Schmidt features prominently throughout -- usually, but not always, in a trash bag or a picnic cooler.

If you think that suggests this book is rather on the twisted side, you're right.

I've never read much crime fiction, but I gave this one a try on the recommendation of my friend Fred, who happens to know the author. Fred had earlier gotten me and Heather hooked on the novels of Christopher Moore, and he told me he thought Lecard's style of writing, though in a different genre, would appeal to someone who likes Moore.

Vinnie's Head falls into the bumbling criminal sub-genre. The main (non-decapitated) character is Johnnie LoDuco, known to some people as Kenny Moleri and to others, as it turns out, as Vinnie McCloskey-Schmidt. Johnnie, ex-con, bond-jumper, and general wrong-place-at-wrong-time person, goes fishing one day and reels in, to his dismay, his friend Vinnie's head. Now, anyone else might have thrown it back, or taken it to the police, or left it under a bush for someone else to discover, but not Johnnie. Vinnie was his friend, and Johnnie feels responsible for him, or at least for his head. And as for the police, no, he doesn't want to talk to them.

So the head comes home with Johnnie, and next thing you know, everyone -- Vinnie's girlfriend, organized crime, a bounty hunter, a video store clerk, and a serial killer with his own head collection -- has taken an interest in Johnnie and his prize catch. So what are they all after? Generally not what they say they are, of course.

Fred was right: the dark humor here reminded me a lot of Moore, and so did the motley characters and screwball plot. I liked this book a lot. This was Lecard's first novel and it was an impressive debut. Now I'm reading his second. It should be fun following his future career.
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