Books by Anthony Bruno

HOT FUDGE by Anthony Bruno
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 1, 2000

" A brisk, sunny love story, marred by some monumentally bad decision-making by sleuths whose judgment seems impaired even by the standards of the comic-crime genre and the state of New Jersey."
The New Jersey Jump Squad's Loretta Kovacs and Frank Marvelli (Double Espresso, 1999) take time off from chasing parole violators to chasing each other, going from stakeout to make out in the department's Chevy Cavalier. Zaftig Loretta is in seventh heaven: Frank seems to love her even more than his chain-nosh, Arnie and Barry's Elmer Fudge Whirl. Unfortunately, though, while Loretta can compete with super-premium ice cream, she's not so sure of her advantage over Frank's supersexy ex-partner Elvissa Mylowe. So when Vissa hijacks Frank to California to help her corral Ira Krupnick, a jumper who took a powder on them ten years back, Loretta hops a plane to the Coast to keep tabs on her man and his mantrap. Fresh off the plane, she runs into sweet, dim Dorie Utley, a former inmate who remembers the former Warden Kovacs with fondness. So while Frank fends off Vissa's knowing looks and restless hands, Loretta camps out at Dorie's palatial digs with her ice-cream mogul husband Barry, her lover (and Barry's eponymous partner) Arnie, their dominatrix Sunny, and Sunny's Rottweiler/Shar-pei Dragon. With Frank working the case and Loretta keeping tabs on all that Elmer Fudge Whirl, they'd stand a better chance of tracking down Krupnick if, like the Hardy Boys, they just didn't keep wondering what could be on the other side of that door, then plunging ahead into peril. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Aug. 1, 2000

"Although the Armstrong character—a macho man with a laudable mission—occasionally calls to mind a comic-book superhero, Million Man March supporters should find this agreeable reading."
The street-savvy founder of the Seekers (a group of bounty hunters who see their mission as not just finding men who have skipped bail but saving their souls as well) briskly recounts his own life and the work of his unique organization. Read full book review >
DOUBLE ESPRESSO by Anthony Bruno
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 17, 1998

Another madcap adventure for New Jersey parole officers Loretta Kovacs and Frank Marvelli, assigned this time to bring back an errant hit man who just happens to be Marvelli's brother-in-law. Loretta's star has fallen even further since Devil's Food (1997). She's still frustrated that the assistant warden's job she botched dumped her into the Jump Squad; she's still fretting about her queenly weight and Marvelli's failure to get interested in her; and now that she's gone cold turkey on coffee, she'd be ready to check into a methadone/caffeine clinic if she hadn't found out that Sammy Teitlebaum, brother of the late wife Marvelli can't get over, has jumped bail and gone after King Rat, nonpareil mob informant Gus Rispoli. The US Marshals are holding Rispoli in a secret prison for protected felons universally known as My Blue Heaven, which turns out, after the usual that's-so-secret-we-can't-tell-you balderdash, to be located outside Seattle, coffee capital of the universe. So Loretta and Marvelli head for the West Coast, little knowing that Veronica Springer, the FBI liaison with the Marshal Service, is not only despicably svelte but secretly in cahoots with Taffy Demaggio, the crooked medical-parts supplier who ordered the hit on Rispoli. In case those complications aren't enough, Rene's kid sister Jennifer (Sammy's estranged wife), when she pops up, is the spitting image of her late sister, and very affectionate toward her brother-in-law; and Bruno throws in Jerry and Larry, twins whose libidos and handguns are a lot bigger than their I.Q.'s, to give every third scene another comical spin. The result is decaf Elmore Leonard, a synthetic but highly entertaining whirligig of Mexican standoffs, in which it makes perfect sense for two guys trying to kill each other to argue at gunpoint about the etiquette of a good hit. As for what keeps Bruno from scaling the heights of Leonard's mobbed-up farces: Be warned that when Loretta finally breaks down and orders a double espresso, Bruno cuts away before she even gets a chance to drink it. Read full book review >
DEVIL'S FOOD by Anthony Bruno
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 11, 1997

With her career in New Jersey's criminal justice system on the skids, Loretta Kovacs gets a new lease on professional life as a tracker of cons on the lam: a divertingly comic entertainment with a bittersweet bite from Bruno (Bad Apple, 1994, etc.). Having lost her high-profile job as assistant warden at a state penitentiary following a riot during which she was held hostage, chubby Loretta is posted to the Parole Violators' Search Unit, a dumping ground known as the Jump Squad. Unsure whether his latest consignee really belongs there, Julius Monroe, the head of the PVSU, pairs her with Frank Marvelli, an effective skip tracer. Assigned to bring in Martha Lee Spooner, whose talents as a money laundress have attracted the custom of dope-dealing biker gangs, the odd couple grudgingly follow up on a tip that the fugitive is in Florida. Frank doesn't want to leave his wife (who's dying of breast cancer), and Loretta is reluctant to revisit WeightAway, the health spa where Martha Lee is employed as a bookkeeper and where she was a recidivist client. And then in the Sunshine State, Loretta and Frank discover that bringing their quarry back alive could prove tricky. A victim of scams past has dispatched a genial hit man to cancel Martha Lee's check, and an arrogant IRS agent (who has the fat farm's charismatic founder under investigation) wants Martha as a material witness. At the behest of insensitive but kindly Frank, the ever-hungry Loretta goes undercover as a client at the farm. When not fending off the facility's ``body Nazis,'' she's finally able to locate where her loyalties lie—and to precipitate the antic confrontations that not only put the partners on a new footing with each other but allow them to fly home with the elusive Martha Lee in tow. Fine escapist fare from a pro only a cut or two below the out- of-sight standards set by Carl Hiassen. Read full book review >
BAD APPLE by Anthony Bruno
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 1, 1994

The day before Thanksgiving things always go a little haywire. But you've never seen 24 hours as crazy as the day Operation Shark Bite—an FBI plan to place agents who'll go in debt to the mob and gather evidence of the threats and violence that are sure to follow—goes awry when an undercover agent who wasn't supposed to be at risk gets shot and his stake of $130,000 hijacked. FBI agent Cuthbert Gibbons is worried where this mess might leave his partner, Mike Tozzi (Bad Moon, 1992, etc.), who's already so deep undercover (as the porn-producing partner of Freshy DeFresco, a soldier the FeeBees have turned) that he's closing a deal to borrow a bundle from loan shark Tony Bellavita (Tony Bells) after having slept with Freshy's sister Gina, whom Tony's got an eye on himself. But the real danger to Mike is Gibbons himself, after Tony sees the two of them together and reacts by kidnapping Mike and Gina (in a gorgeous set piece in Macy's). In hot pursuit of Tony's getaway car is a posse including Tony's muscle man Stanley Sukowski, who's holding Freshy, Gibbons, and Gibbons's wife, Lorraine (who was just in Macy's to give her grouchy husband some Percodan). Also joining the pursuit is the capo who's furious that Tony shot a Fed. And this demented chase is only the beginning of the story's mad geometry: By the time of the noisy climax among the looming Thanksgiving Day parade balloons, Bruno's explosive farce will have brought together every permutation imaginable of good guys, bad guys, and wiseguys. Inspired plotting that just keeps ratcheting up the tension, and the comedy. You'll never find a better argument for spending the holiday at home. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Sept. 7, 1993

Smoothly written bio of a lone-wolf executioner for the mob. In his first nonfiction book, mystery author Bruno (Bad Moon, 1992, etc.) puts his writing talents to white-knuckle use with a tight focus on a killer with no human feelings except toward his wife and three sons. Kuklinski—who'd used derringers, shotguns, baseball bats, tire irons, knives, ice picks, and his bare hands to kill—had been dubbed ``The Ice Man'' by the New Jersey Police after it was discovered that the body of one of his victims had been stashed for two years in an ice-cream truck owned by a friend of the killer's known as ``Mr. Softee.'' A genius at assassination when he wasn't serving kids popsicles, Mr. Softee had schooled the Ice Man in the use of cyanide, a car- bomb invention called the ``seat of death,'' and other exotic methods of murder. Cyanide proved to be Kuklinski's first love: It was quiet and discreet—you could walk by your victim, spray his face with the poison while pretending to sneeze, and he'd be dying even as he crumpled to the sidewalk. Bruno details how Dominick Polifrone, a cop who grew up with the wiseguys in Hackensack, goes undercover and gets in with the cagey Kuklinski. The hit man wants cyanide and a rich Jewish kid to sell coke to, and Polifrone wants to record Kuklinski proposing murders. As cop and killer play cat and mouse, and the bartering goes bad, the danger of Polifrone being shot at any moment is torqued tighter and tighter by Bruno. Finally, Kuklinski is caught and tried: It's determined that he's committed approximately one hundred murders, including that of Roy DeMeo, a killer so dangerous that he intimidated even John Gotti. A fast-paced, suspenseful re-creation of how a vicious killer was run to ground. Read full book review >
BAD MOON by Anthony Bruno
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 2, 1992

As a pre-40th birthday surprise, FBI hotdogger Gibbons gifts partner Tozzi (Bad Business, etc.) with an introduction to luscious young Stacy, TV spokesperson for a trendy pump-iron health club. On the way out of the bar, however, Tozzi becomes a hit-man's target, is wounded and given a month's leave—which he spends trying to find out who wants him dead, finally narrowing the list to wily Sal Immordino, a wiseguy pretending to be crazy (he prefers a mental institution to a prison cell). But Sal has found ways to sneak out, and his plan is simple—to hit Mistretta, Juicy, and Bartolo (rival mobsters), and, of course, Tozzi, who testified against him. Meanwhile, Gibbons is assigned a temporary partner, agent Cummings, a female psychiatrist with no field experience but plenty of nagging advice. As the bodies pile up, Tozzi and Sal head for a collision—which nearly blows out Stacy's brains and necessitates Gibbons hiding in a casket at a mob funeral. Wryly amusing subplot (Tozzi greeting his 40th with impotence), plus the requisite tough-guy theatrics, makes for a lively fifth appearance of Tozzi and Gibbons. Read full book review >
BAD BUSINESS by Anthony Bruno
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 8, 1991

A lesser outing for antic FBI team Gibbons and Tozzi finds Tozzi framed for the murder of a key witness against a Mafia dope ring. The real killer, Assistant US District Attorney (and New York mayoral hopeful) Tom Augustine, gets inspired by Tozzi's offhand remark—faithfully reported in the next day's news—that somebody oughta execute, gangland-style, all 18 defendants and their lawyers in a monster drug case (a case that prosecutor Augustine, the New York connection for the Sicilian mob, has been straining to shepherd into a mistrial). And after the smoke has cleared from the safe house Gibbons and Tozzi arranged in Jersey City, Tozzi's been suspended from the Bureau, and Gibbons, whose old romantic rival Jimmy McCleery has his eye on Gibbons's wife Lorraine, gets sucked in too. It doesn't help that Tozzi's picked this month to rediscover (mostly at night, at her place) high-school princess Lesley Halloran, who's now defending Mafioso Ugo Salamandra, or that he's just been photographed chatting with Salamandra . . . but good hunches, martial arts, and dumb luck- -arch-WASP Augustine and the mob aren't exactly natural allies— combine to kick all the proper butts. Not as deliriously overplotted as last year's Bad Luck, but still sharp enough to make you hug yourself with anticipation as Gibbons and Tozzi sink deeper into the mud you know they'll have just enough— well, maybe not quite enough—trouble wriggling out of. Read full book review >