DEVIL'S FOOD by Anthony Bruno


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 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.

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-85990-2
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1996


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