MIKE DIME by Barry Fantoni


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I was sitting in my office with the lights out and my feet on the desk. . . . I was thinking about Mrs. Tolstoy. Being married to Leo couldn't have been a lot of laughs. . . . The phone rang."" That's all on page one of this Sam-Spade-style mystery, but from then on it's less a parody than a doggedly faithful recreation of the 1940s hardboiled-shamus genre--that narrator voice (full of similes like ""She was colder than a nun's kiss"") and the now-predictable plotting. Mike Dime works out of 1948 Philadelphia, and that phone call leads to a case: Mrs. Frank Summers wants Mike to find her husband, who disappeared after mistakenly getting hold of a briefcase containing $100,000. Mike finds Summers dead, of course--nailed to the wall of a sleazy hotel-room with a butcher's knife-sharpener. And he's near-fatally roughed up by ""The Hog"" (working for the mobster who owns the briefcase), after which he gets sanctuary from sleek, sexy stranger Elaine Damone (""Damn beautiful. And pretty near damn untouchable"")--who wants Mike to find the creep who's blackmailing her brother. But every savvy reader will immediately know that Elaine isn't what she seems; and there are no surprises as Mike's quest for the briefcase turns up more dead bodies and tough similes. Uninspired--but an affectionate and skillful reproduction of a period genre (which hasn't really changed all that much in its more up-to-date incarnations).

Pub Date: March 30th, 1981
Publisher: Watts