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The latest winner of the Private Eye Writers of America's first-novel competition kicks off with the hero getting fired from a job he's not even on. Sports lawyer Wade Loftus pays off Harry Rice, owner of south Florida's Sand Bar, to keep away from his wife Eloise, who sure enough turns up to hire Harry to recover her husband's stolen collection of antique firearms. Naturally, Harry takes the case, and soon learns that Wade (1) spent the day of the theft shacked up with a go-go girl named Lola, (2) waited two days before reporting the theft, and (3) seems to have pawned some of his guns weeks before they were stolen. As Harry stalks the mean streets of Broward County trying out his endearingly gaudy patter (""It had to be tough for her--discovering that her husband had been playing pickup games in the Junior Miss League. She had just learned that fidelity was just another word for no one else to do""), he's threatened by a crimelord, slashed by the lord's beautiful sidekick, and assaulted by Wade Loftus. But does he back down? You bet he does. He takes $5,000 from the bad guys to forget about the case, quits come-hither Eloise cold, and promptly gets picked up for Wade's murder. The breezy mystery creaks in places, but Harry's a sweetie--a puppy-dog hero who keeps his dignity by never forgetting how ridiculous he looks in his tough-guy role.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1995
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's