THE ALZHAMMER by Joseph Di Prisco


Or Keep Your Friends Close and...I Forget the Other Thing
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Di Prisco's latest is part Mafia thriller, part comic farce, part lament about the anguish of dementia—and all hyperkinetic.

Mikey Festagiacamo is a second-generation mob boss who should, at 57, be in his prime. But as the novel opens, he's suffering ever more frequent memory lapses that seem to presage the same slow, fatal progress his father experienced with dementia—the Alzhammer, in Mikey's lingo—and this is intolerable. Just as Mikey's pondering suicide, a new and mysterious outfit starts trying to kill him, and having his ticket punched by someone else is an indignity not to be suffered. Enter Zayana, Mikey's ex, who's been romantically involved with a sinister U.S. senator and whose attempts to disentangle herself (and get a bit of payola on the way out) seem to have precipitated the crisis. Mikey hands the reins of the family business to his sister, an ex-academic who turns out to be ideally suited to the role of Don Rosey, and he and Zayana (pretending to be Christian Scientists) hide out in an unlicensed nursing home near Las Vegas, where Mikey befriends a transgender nurse named Carololina and acquires a sex-starved septuagenarian sidekick named Hercules. After a whorehouse-and-casino van trip Mikey leads goes first bad and then, thanks to security videotape, viral, one of Mikey's old gunsels and the senator's chief enforcer show up for a final confrontation in the "Goners' Ward." The novel is fast-paced and often charming, especially in the nursing-home scenes, but its attitude toward subtlety isn't so much to eschew it as (this happens to a would-be assassin in the novel) to run it over with a Ferrari and then bring in a milk truck to mangle the corpse and drag it several miles.

Lively but broad and overcaffeinated.

Pub Date: March 15th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-942600-43-5
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Vireo/Rare Bird Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2016


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