FOOL'S GOLD by Albert DiBartolomeo


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 The rollicking, roundly suspenseful misadventures of a case of stolen gold coins--an impressive move up to the Elmore Leonard-George V. Higgins neighborhood for the author of The Vespers Tapes (1991). When pint-size thief Benny Bean breaks into a South Jersey house he visited once before, together with a girl who inadvertently showed him how to circumvent the alarm, he can't know how many surprises his routine heist will lead to. Surprise #1: he finds a box of gold coins worth $30,000. Surprise #2: as he's leaving, he's held up by a second thief, a Henry Lawrence who gets away with the coins. Benny digs up Lawrence back in Philly, but comes up against #3: Lawrence insists somebody else stole them from him on his way to meet Benny. Benny promptly kidnaps Lawrence's daughter Claire, who (#4) turns out to be the girl from the house, in order to motivate Lawrence to come up with the gold, but discovers (#5) that the coins have somehow found their way into the possession of Benny's gangland boss, loan shark Freddie Whale. Looks like Benny has kidnapped Claire for nothing--except that, meanwhile, he's run into Paul Fante, who's sweet on the girl. So he pushes Paul to come up with the coins, still unaware that Claire's stepfather, the person both Benny and Lawrence went to rob, was (#6) Victor Notte, blood brother of Whale's own boss Ernie Maglio. As Claire fights to escape, and Paul--still shaken from an earlier brush with Whale--teams up with his mob-connected Uncle Rick to get her back, and Benny runs around waving his piece at anybody who looks like they have a line on his gold--well, why give away the next half-dozen surprises? DiBartolomeo impresses whether he's tugging at your heartstrings on behalf of Paul and Claire or making you laugh heartlessly at the casual killing of a mob wife who steps into the wrong room. A delight from the starting-gate felony to the final payoff.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-09058-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993