Take Big Al, an inept minor-league Mafioso who's boss of a New York fish market, and send him to Key West. Have a rival who'd like to take over the market put out a contract on said mobster. Then give the hit man just enough information to make sure he fingers the wrong guy. That's not hard when both the target and an innocent tourist have the same vanity plate, even though one's a short guy with a big dog and the other's a big guy with a small dog. At first the only thing Big Al of the Mob and Big Al the furniture salesman from New Jersey have in common is their desire for a few days of R and R in the Sunshine State. But by the time the salesman's been nearly done in by a ton of rancid calamari and has narrowly escaped death by stuffed sailfish, there's another link between the two Al's, and therein lies the tale. That link is a beautiful woman named Katy Sansone.
Will Big Al the Good end up with Katy, the dissatisfied girlfriend of Big Al the Bad? Perhaps, and between the setup and the payoff there are plenty of laughs and a few implausible coincidences. Laurence Shames's seventh Key West adventure is a good read for a day at the beach or an afternoon in the hammock for mystery fans who can't wait for the next Carl Hiaasen. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
His seventh comic thriller set in the Florida Keys finds Shames running out of fun. The usual suspects make up the cast of charactersbumbling two-bit Mafioso grifters and hitmen who find themselves in ludicrous situationsbut the players seem perfunctorily one-dimensional, and their predicaments, while humorous in premise, come off contrived rather than comic. Minor mobster Nicky Scotto is convinced that rival Big Al Marracottaa five-foot midget who replaced him as boss of the Mafia-run Fulton Fish Marketpoisoned him with bad clams. He enlists Chop Parilla, a Hialeah hot car dealer and his henchman, Squid Berman, to even the score. They plan to get Big Al when hes on vacation in Key West with his willowy girlfriend, Katy Sansone. The two hoods think theyve found their victim, except theres more than one guy in Key West with Big Al license plates. When Squid and Chop mistakenly zero in on hulking Al Tuschman, former high school football hero and Jersey furniture salesman, they play tepid dirty tricks such as putting 50 pounds of spoiled calamari in the wrong Als Lexus, and a live lobster in his bed. Ultimately, Katy becomes fed up with being the sex toy of the degenerate mini-mobster Al, and opts for Al the gentle giant. Meanwhile, Nicky, anxious to regain his former position as head honcho of the fish market, contracts a hit to assassinate his rival. The new lovers, Al and Katy, are entertaining characters, but their amiable romance doesnt keep the plot from getting corny or tired. Unlike his bestselling contemporaries Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen, who consistently bring freshness to similar material, Shames seems to have misplaced the enthusiasm that marked his early work (Florida Straits, etc.).
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.