Satire-laden Florida thriller from Standiford (Spill, 1991)- -with quirky characters, vivid settings, and riveting action done in Sam Peckinpah's slo-mo style. Baseball is happening in southern Florida. Down-on-his-luck Johnny Deal, son of a one-time prosperous developer, seemingly for old times' sake has been invited to a soirÇe aboard his dad's old pal's yacht--a gathering of movers and shakers hoping to bring the national pastime to Miami. Despite Thornton Penfield's opulent hospitality, the evening is a maudlin reminder of days past. So Deal and pregnant wife Janice escape early. The next day Deal's on his way to the Little Havana fourplex he's renovating (the last of his father's legacy) when a driver tries to run him off the road. To boot, his brakes fail and Deal narrowly avoids the ensuing multi-vehicle accident. This marks the onset of a rapid-fire series of debacles. First, Deal's wife is forced off a bridge and assumed drowned. Then he finds himself the focal point of mishaps orchestrated (he'll learn) by Cuban racketeer Raoul Alcazar. All this is niftily centered around the real-life question of who profits when a new major-league baseball franchise is awarded--one of Alcazar's hoods, black ex-footballer Leon Straight, has all the best lines on that and other subjects. A memorable creation, Leon is an all-time bad dude, offing several people and a dog in new and interesting ways. For himself, Deal is sided by dead best buddy Flivey Penfield and Homer the dwarf. Throw all of the above into the mix with Standiford's depiction of Miami's exotic landscape, melting-pot populace, and social ills for a page-turner of the first water.