SHAKEDOWN by Gerald Petievich
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With each book, Petievich (To Live and Die in L.A., etc.) has moved further away from old-fashioned T-Man/G-Man action, further towards the sort of ironic, twisty crime-novel (cf. Elmore Leonard et al.) that gives equal attention to both cops and robbers. And this new novel is a slick, nastily effective example of the genre, tauter and shrewder (if less quirkily charming) than Heywood Gould's somewhat similar entry, Double Bang (above). FBI-man John Novak (something of a maverick) and his taciturn sidekick Red Haynes (an outright wild-man) are out to nail Tony Parisi, kingpin of the Las Vegas branch of the Mafia--but they're hamstrung by a prissy boss, stymied at every turn. Even their most secret stool-pigeon gets blown up, suggesting that there's a mole within the Las Vegas FBI ranks. So, desperate for any angle, Novak and Haynes start zeroing in on Eddie Sands, an ex-cop and ex-con who seems to be hooked up in some sort of deal with Parisi. Indeed, as the reader already knows, Eddie--made super-greedy out of lust/love for sexy con-artist Monica--is using data supplied by Parisi to blackmail famous people (movie-stars, politicians) who've chosen Parisi's Vegas hotel for secret sex-encounters. Can the FBI guys squeeze Eddie hard enough to force him to turn informant? They sure can--especially since Novak's lover Lorraine is a U.S. District judge who helps them put con-lady Monica in jail, with bail set at $500,000. But there's an extra wrinkle, of course: one of Eddie's extortion victims has put out a contract on the shakedown artist. So, before Novak gets the goods on Parisi (and the FBI mole), there'll be a series of near-fatal ambushes and showdowns in and around assorted Vegas motels. The talk is often less raunchy than merely smutty; the crudely sketched sex is semi-gratuitous. But, with ruthless good-guys who are just slightly more appealing than the bad-guys (Eddie and Monica have a certain sleazy gallantry), this is mean, shifty, and fast enough to keep thick-skinned readers nicely on edge.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1988
Publisher: Simon & Schuster