RAW DEAL by Les Standiford

RAW DEAL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

After a standout appearance in Done Deal (1993), it's back to the grind for mayhemprone Florida builder John Deal in this deeply ordinary Carl Hiaasen knockoff. Deal and his wife, Janice are, as usual, only minding their own business, taking a rare break from baby Isabel by visiting Marielena Marquez's Galeria y Ediciones Catalan. Hours after their leisurely tour, the gallery is bombed during a television broadcast to mark the exhibition of new work by a pair of controversial painters. No sooner have the shaken Deals congratulated themselves on their narrow escape than their own house is torched and Janice Deal horribly burned. Why is somebody out to get them? At first Deal speculates that signing the gallery's guest register put the bad guys on to them, but his friend Vernon Driscoll, a retired cop who opens a lot of doors with a phony badge, helps him find a different reason: The Deals' new tenant, whom they call Tommy Holsum, a harmless, slow-witted fellow, has somehow fallen afoul of hired killer Coco Morales. Sadly, Deal and Driscoll take the rest of the story to work out what Standiford lets us in on from the beginning: Morales's boss, Vincente Luis Torreno, is a Cuban exile fanatically determined to corner the world sugar market by tweaking the strings in Cuba just at the moment Castro's sure to be ousted. The geopolitical thrust-and-parry of Torreno's scheme, which would be a slice of rare roast beef for many another writer, doesn't carry the slightest weight or authority here. Instead, we get snapshots of Deal as caring (but reluctant) landlord, Deal as sensitive support in his wife's hour of need (though clearly the man is no picnic to be married to), Deal as the unlikely nemesis of power-mad Torreno and dead-eyed Morales. Since Deal continues to do nothing heroic (that's his shtick), this thriller remains inert, giving far too much away from the beginning and keeping only the most inconsequential secrets for last.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1994
ISBN: 1590581067
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperCollins