Vincent (Black Widow, 2007) spins a caper involving the mob in Vegas—is that redundant?
Twenty years ago, Nick Conti escaped the Kansas City Mafia and made a new life for himself as a producer. Now he’s on top with the hit TV show The $trip, filmed on location in Las Vegas. Mobster Carlo Strozzi wants in on the action and tries to put the screws on Nick for $5,000 a week…just so that nothing untoward happens during the filming of the show, he suggests. After enduring some not-so-subtle pressure—one of the show’s stars gets manhandled by Strozzi’s goons, a warehouse mysteriously catches fire—Nick calls in some heat of his own. As always in this kind of story, dames become an issue when Nick’s former lover Erin Conroy, now a major film star, appears and rekindles their relationship to a white heat. Unfortunately for Nick, Erin is being pursued by Big Allie Saltieri, egomaniac extraordinaire and a dandy frequently compared to George Raft. Hardcore fans of hard-boiled prose may appreciate Vincent’s clipped cascades: “Allie was Kansas City, and KC reported to Chicago. His orders came straight from Accardo—the very top of Chicago—and the Tuna wanted Strozzi and his boys dead.” By the end mobsters are pursuing other mobsters in a daisy chain of mayhem. “Meaningful? Probably not,” concludes Nick as he muses on the significance of the seven S’s he’s encountered (including Strozzi, Skeets, Saltieri and “Stella by Starlight”). It’s a question and answer that could serve as a mantra for Vincent’s silly novel.
Granted, it has no pretensions to great literature, but even by the standards of books with dollar signs in the titles, this is flimsy stuff.