Since making his bundle back in Jersey, Pete Amsterdam’s leading a Key West regimen of late mornings, tennis, Chardonnay, and a p.i. license he maintains strictly as a tax dodge—until he meets the leggy blond client he can’t refuse, partly because showing her out would require him to bolt nude from his hot tub, partly because the charming she<\I> turns out to be an equally intriguing he<\I>, but mostly because his would-be client turns up dead the next morning on Tank Island. The late Kenny Lukens had run off to the Bahamas just as fast as his long, long legs could carry him after relieving his boss, Lefty Ortega, of two payroll pouches, one containing the night’s receipts from Lefty’s bar, the other something Lefty wanted back even more. Kenny’s friends and foes alike gang up on the reluctant Amsterdam, prodding him to discover just what Kenny had buried on Tank Island and why he came back to unbury it. Soon after lissome yoga instructor Maggie plies Pete with herbal tea, he’s scrambling off the side of her dry-docked trawler for a closer look at Kenny’s boat. Inspired by a note Ortega’s daughter Lydia passes him at Lefty’s funeral, he stares down her bodyguard to get into her condo. He even takes a turn at straight-up interrogation, questioning Lydia’s partner Mickey Veale about Ortega’s business. But before long, it’s his own curiosity and long-buried ambition that propel him toward full-fledged sleuthing.
Though Amsterdam’s not as much fun as the geezers and innocents of Shames’s first seven novels (Welcome to Paradise, 1999, etc.), his debut still gets him off to a worthy start.