UMP by James Cohen


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 Cohen takes a sabbatical from the nightmare landscapes of Disappearance (1989) and Through a Lens Darkly (1991) for this cartoon comedy of a simple-minded, indestructible hit man who just wants to be left alone. Following his unsuccessful assault on mobster Sal Golla--he lets Sal get away, though he kills both of his triplet brothers--big, dim- witted Frank Brady, who prefers to be called Ump, gets relocated (courtesy of his own capo's gunman protection plan) to the midwestern Arcadia of Waylin--where, it turns out, just about everybody wants to hire him. Everybody? Well, the list of potential clients includes his loutish and unwilling host, Waylin's mayor, the city treasurer, the bank president, a lovelorn wife, and a priest whose cemetery is about to be dug up to make room for a burger chain. While Ump is getting trapped into foiling a holdup and umping the local minor-league ball club--enforcing his calls by smashing windshields--and constantly explaining that he's just trying to follow his personal rules (``4. Always stop at a red light. 5. Never extinct anything''), the scheming townsfolk are putting so much pressure on him that he's glad to be called away to finish off Sal Golla (not so many laughs here, though lotsa guys get whacked) before finally returning to Waylin for a predictable showdown with his homicidal hosts. The publisher compares this to Prizzi's Honor; actually, it's more like Edward Killerhands. Don't look for anything like Condon's subtlety in the forthcoming movie.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-8027-1182-0
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Walker
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1991