FLORIDA STRAITS by Laurence Shames


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 Nifty comic novel about a bumbling, low-level Mafia gofer who leaves the mob behind and goes to Key West to make a new life for himself. Readers will have a hard time not seeing Joey Pesci as the hero of this ``business novel'' by the author of The Big Time and the uncredited coauthor of the bestselling Boss of Bosses. The plot is The Worm Turns. Joey Goldman, half-Jewish illegitimate son of mob boss Vincente Delgatto, is not a full-blooded Sicilian and so can never take over the mob. What's more, he's forever being squashed by his half-brother, Gino, a full Sicilian. Joey decides to give it all up, move permanently to Key West with his girlfriend Sandra, and then take over a few scams--maybe numbers, prostitution, garbage trucking, something that will not give him the creepy feeling of going legit. But Key West's numbers racket is all sewed up by the Cubans; sex is weirdly ridden with transvestites; garbage trucking is under a city contract; and at each attempt to break in, Joey is humiliated. While Sandra gets another bank-teller's job, at half what she earned in Queens, Joey's money runs low. He meets retired Mafioso Bert the Shirt, who tells him he should look into the local traditions, perhaps get his money from the sea--and Joey starts thinking about the Florida Straits as a moneymaker. Then his greasy brother Gino shows, pursued by a rival mob and looking for $3 mil in rough-cut emeralds that have been hidden in a rotting boat. Soon Joey and Sandra are prisoners of mob goons, and Joe must recover the emeralds.... A comic novel with no laughs: all the humor blooms from character, not from farcical difficulties--a wise business move by Shames.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-74933-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1992


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