- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (January 11, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385511892
- ISBN-13: 978-0385511896
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #521,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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7,000 Clams: A Novel Hardcover – January 11, 2005
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The next best thing to being in Florida this winter is curling up with this lively debut romp through the Sunshine State in the company of a host of colorful characters--a down-on-his luck bootlegger and the upper class college girl who loves him, a sultry lounge singer whose testimony could put Al Capone behind bars for life, a cold-blooded killer on the lam for murdering his wealthy step-mother, and especially Babe Ruth, the hard-living, hard-drinking legend whose $7,000 IOU is the curve ball in this colorful tale of the Roaring Twenties. Frank Hearn lost the shipment of booze that was his ticket to the easy life, but in his pursuit of the perp he found something even bettera handwritten gambling marker signed by the Babe. Now all he has to do is cash it. And since the Babe and his teammates have just left for spring training in St. Petersburg, Frank follows their trail, pursued by the legitimate owner of the marker and accompanied by lovely Ginger de More, who's on the lam from a pair of major league hit men who want to make sure she never makes it to the witness stand. You don't have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this screwball comedy set in the Roaring Twenties, but youll be rooting for its well-drawn characters and charmed by their light-hearted love story. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
Set during the Roaring '20, Irby's frenzied debut chases a good-natured criminal and a baseball icon up and down the eastern seaboard. Bootlegger Frank Hearne faces trouble in Asbury Park, N.J.: an old colleague turned legit (on the face of it, anyway) for the Prohibition Bureau makes off with a pricey cache of smuggled Canadian scotch. Desperate, Frank steals a tattered $7,000 IOU penned by the one and only Babe Ruth and sets off with voluptuous, gun-toting model/lounge singer Ginger DeMore to spring training in St. Petersburg, Fla., to cash in. Frank and Ginger, both on everyone's most-wanted list, are tailed by a gang of mobsters and also by Irene Howard, an obsessed, lovesick college student Frank spent the summer romancing. While Ginger's flirtations fail to keep the Mafioso off her tail, beady-eyed jewel thief Ellis Wax bamboozles his way into Irene's already unstable life and eventually worms his way into Frank's business as well. Babe's IOU is actually a gambling debt owed to a underworld boss, and before it makes front-page news, everyone from crooked cops to rabid henchmen rush to Derby Lanes dog track to chase down the Bambino. A botched scheme to kidnap Irene pits Frank against Ellis as bullets fly and female hearts flutter. Though overzealous in scope, Irby's writing is brisk and the distinctive characterizations are vivid enough to keep readers engrossed.
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I will read Mr. Irby's next installment because the positives outweigh the negatives and this is a fun read. I am interested to see how he develops as a writer and hope that he gives a little more insight into his main characters.
IRBY, a history professor, picked an exciting time to write about even if much of it is fiction. Imagine the hustle and bustle of Chicago during the 20's with those new-fangled Model T's; shoot-outs between the coppers and the mob; Prohibition vs. bootleggers and rum runners. The action shifts to Florida during the land boom of the 20's with hustlers and shysters at every corner eagerly waiting to take the next passer-by's dough in exchange for a fake deed or a useless bit of swamp land. Bullets are whizzing thru the air and innocent people are dropping like flies while the Chicago mob is out to get the stoolie come Hell of high water.
The editing could have been better but it was quite good: I have yet to read a book with zero errors. I did have trouble believing one small segment. Vecchio, an older hit man, gets shot at close range by a younger off-the-handle mobster while parked across the street from a crime scene loaded with coppers and no one hears the shot?
This was a real enjoyable fast-paced read. I read it in a few days while camping. I came across the book in our library, what a find. I see that Irby has written two other books and I'd sure like to read them.
Frank Hearn is just an ordinary guy trying to make an honest living. Well, as least as honest a living as is possible for a bootlegger in Asbury Park, New Jersey during the roaring Twenties. Set to make a big score on a shipment of top-shelf hooch, Hearn is double-crossed and his booze is hijacked. Frank finds the mug that set him up but it's too late to get either his liquor or his money back. What he does get, however, is an IOU for $7,000 in gambling debts signed by none other than the great Babe Ruth himself. With his prospects looking pretty dim up North, Hearn decides to make the trek to St. Petersburg, Florida where the mighty Yankees are set to begin spring training. There he hopes to brace the Babe and force the slugger to pay up before Frank goes public with the story. Along the way Hearn hooks up with ex-torch singer Ginger DeMore, a dame with curves in all the right places and the guts to use the gun she packs in one of the few places she has that doesn't curve.
7,000 CLAMS is both entertaining and evocative. Irby's guys and molls not only talk the talk but they walk the walk as well. Most impressive is the manner in which the author subtly portrays the schizophrenia of the era - a façade of morality and law and order covering a situation rapidly deteriorating into anarchy and lawlessness. Portrayed here is a country of seemingly limitless possibility but one which is at the same time beset by a palpable sense of desperation. Those larger cultural issues of the day are deftly reflected in the chaotic personal lives of the characters in this story. All of those elements more than make up for the places in this novel where the plot - which takes a long time to get rolling in the first place - nearly grinds to a halt.
That being said, anyone looking for a good, old fashioned hardboiled story set in an era when the men did what they had to do to get by and the women were as dangerous as they were glamorous will enjoy this novel. Irby expresses a special interest in the 1920's. The quality of his stylish first effort -a few minor blemishes notwithstanding - should leave most readers hoping that he will return again to that same era in subsequent books. (James Clar - MYSTERY NEWS)