THE MAFIA DIARIES by Jay Robert Nash


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In A Crime Story (1981), narrator John Howard Journey--a Chicago crime-columnist in author Nash's own image--made an appealing debut despite the elaborate implausibility of his sleuthing; here, the plot is again an iffy jumble, while Journey's less of a charmer. The kickoff: Journey has ordered (and paid for) a library of crime-books from France--but now the order's been cancelled, and so has the Chicago book-dealer (a steel billing spike through the brain) who did the negotiating with a N.Y. dealer. Furthermore, someone tries to kill Journey, injuring his sidekick. So he's off to track down that N.Y. dealer, meeting sexy old flame Laura (now a N.Y. banker) and some enigmatic creeps on the Hitchcock-style train-trip (the novel's best sequence). Manhattan brings more corpses, more attacks, all suggesting Mafiosi at work--and convincing Journey that the missing crime-library must have contained the long-lost 1940s/Sicily diaries of Salvatore Giuliano, an anti-Mafia bandit who Told All about gang plans for America. On, then, to Paris, for more corpses--and a lead to the current whereabouts of the missing books. But is it the Mafia who's ready to kill, kill, kill in order to keep those old diaries a secret? Or some other group with secret Mafia ties? The answers are all predictable; the pace, with digressions into crime-history and Journey's social thinking (shallow stuff), is languid, despite all the bloodshed; and Journey himself is more smirky than endearing this time. The only distinction of this serviceable, cartoonish caper, in fact: the unprecedented $17.95 price tag for a thin series whodunit.

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1984
Publisher: Delacorte