BAD AUGUST by Daniel Hearn


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In this unpretentious, derivative, but plainly appealing hard-boiled debut, narrator-shamus Giovanni (Joe) Noonan--a youngish ex-cop in NYC--looks into the tortured family-history of an unstable young client (a Ross Macdonald-ish stew) while avoiding unrelated attacks from a Mafia hit man. The Mafioso subplot is almost blatantly gratuitous and contrived--arising when Noonan, hard up for cash, takes a job as a bouncer, impetuously scuffles with a Mob-connected patron, and finds himself a revenge-target. . .until he gets his hands on the mobster's huge drug stash and can negotiate a peace settlement. Meanwhile, on a more absorbing level, Noonan takes an interest (nobly nonprofit) in the case of pathetic, pretty Angela Sonderling, a Bellevue patient with delusions (or are they?) about the bygone murder of her father by her mother. Despite non-encouragement from Angela's psychiatrist and her creepy, bisexual boyfriend, Noonan digs up the past (literally) on a trip to the girl's Maryland hometown--and ushers in a grim finale involving two suicides (one real, one faked), psychosexual secrets, and a violent showdown. Less a solid novel than a heavily padded short-story, and Noonan (complete with ex-wife and wry/macho manner) is more generic than special--but leanly streetwise, likably unforced, and modestly promising.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1987
Publisher: St. Martin's