LITTLE ODESSA by Joseph Koenig
Kirkus Star


Email this review


In Floater (1986), Koenig piped a near-perfect-pitch Elmore Leonard. In this second crime meller, he finds his own voice--lighter, sweeter--and a vibrant heroine to embody it, a gutsy Alice lost amidst the cons and thugs of Gotham's meanstreeted Wonderland. Kate Piro is the only stripper in Times Square who blushes as she peels, but she's spunky enough to take a swing at the African diplomat who tosses a lit cigarette on her bare chest. When the envoy presses charges, Kate meets arresting cop Stan Bucyk, a middle-aging toughie whose bid of friendship is tinged with lust. Kate will make pals, but she'll bed only no-good boyfriend Nathan; so she also turns down Howard, the rich owner of the Arab joint at which she belly-dances under the ""Little Odessa"" byline. But when Howard travels to Israel, Kate does agree to mind his business, home, and prize dog--giving Bucyk his opening when low-life thief Harry Lema breaks into the townhouse looking for Howard's rumored fortune. Finding Kate and dog but no cash, Harry kidnaps the dog to force Kate to dig out the stash for him. Will Bucyk, who offers to track down the dog, be Kate's hero after ali? Not likely, when boyfriend Nathan walks into the townhouse to find Bucyk himself digging for the money--and is gunned down by the rogue cop. This twist presages a second, as the seemingly evil Harry--Bucyk's fall-guy for the killing--reveals a tender heart beneath his social callouses. Koenig's inventive climax finds Kate and Harry, reluctantly in love, riding Coney Island's Cyclone roller coaster with guns pointed at their hearts: a fitting emblem for this engrossing novel that so slickly mixes thrills, humor, and romance. In sum: dandy entertainment that could make as splendid a film as it does a book.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1988
Publisher: Viking