VIRGIN HEAT by Laurence Shames
Kirkus Star

VIRGIN HEAT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Love turns up in the most unexpected places in Shames's fifth idyll (Tropical Depression, 1996, etc.) concerning the mafia's Florida branch. Ten years ago, the cops back in New York squeezed Sal Martucci, and Sal, desperate to save his skin, ratted out his capo, Paulie Amaro. Relocated and resculpted by the Witness Protection Program, Sal, now self-christened Ziggy Maxx, eventually drifted down to Key West, where he forgot all about his passionate, and unconsummated, affair with Paulie's daughter Angelina. But Angelina hasn't forgotten him, and when she recognizes the image captured on her uncle Louie's vacation videotape, she goes AWOL from her father's house and, under the wing of her hopelessly romantic new friend Michael, checks into the Coral Shores, a gay-trade motel. Naturally, Uncle Louie, the white sheep of the family, who's never shown the slightest gumption--his plumbing-supply business is strictly legit--gets a funny feeling about where she's gone and takes off after her. So does her father, who's finished serving his sentence just in time to become convinced that somebody's kidnapped his daughter. In fact, anxious and confused Amaros keep heading south. What's going to happen on an island as little as Key West? An Amaro family reunion, that's what, complicated by (1) Michael's fling with the undercover cop assigned to keep an eye on Ziggy, (2) Paulie's involvement in a local mobster's plan to smuggle guns into Cuba, and (3) the sudden need of most of the cast to hide themselves in the friendly bosom of the Coral Shores. So Angelina's looking for Ziggy, Paulie's looking for Angelina, the feds are looking for Paulie, Michael's looking for love, and Uncle Louie's basically looking for a little peace and quiet, though that's not exactly what he's finding. Any questions so far? The most firmly plotted yet of Shames's ebullient Key West comedies, with a denouement guaranteed to satisfy everybody but the characters.

Pub Date: March 13th, 1997
ISBN: 0595469132
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Hyperion