CAPER by Lesley Andress
Kirkus Star

CAPER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Pseudonymous author Andress--whose style is most reminscent of slick, sassy Manhattan crime writers like Lawrence Block--takes an old gimmick for a long but satisfyingly progressive (from light and silly to dark indeed) ride. Successful hack-suspense writer Jannie Shean, our narrator and a chic gal with many macho pseudonyms, is losing her touch; her publisher finds her recent work unreal and unpublishable. So Jannie decides to grab some verisimilitude by actually planning a N.Y. caper--but not carrying it out, of course. Teaming up with her semilover, effete but restless editor Dick, she cases a loaded, low-profile jewelry store near Fifth Avenue. She moves into a West Side fleabag hotel, wigged and high-heeled and tarted up with a false identity. And she assembles a bona-fide lowlife gang--led by Jannie's hotel neighbor (and sometime lover), darkly charismatic Jack Donohue. Terrific. . . but when, the night before the planned heist, Jannie and Dick head back to the East Side to resume respectable lives--Zap! Jack and the gang are waiting for them (Jack's been onto Jannie's disguise all along), the caper is on (with Jannie and Dick participating at knife- and gun-point), and it's a disaster: two dead bodies, all sorts of evidence left behind, and--worst of all--the realization that the three million in stolen gems is (as in The Pope of Greenwich Village) mob loot. So, pursued by both cops and hoods, Jannie & Dick & Jack & sweet, dumb Hymie Gore head for Miami by car--with hairy rooftop escapes (Jannie's scared of heights), chases, shoot-outs (Hymie is killed), and a Bonnie-and-Clyde-ish idyll in backwoods Georgia, where the now-devoted threesome (both men are bisexual) shares mud-swims and bed. Dick will die soon, however, followed--in a Miami-Cuban doublecross--by Jack; and at the fadeout (not surprisingly, a film version is promised), Jannie's still on the run, alone and quite changed from the Gucci-Pucci cutie we met in Chapter One. . . . Not to be taken seriously--neither characterization nor plotting will stand up to thoughtful reading--but Andress keeps things moving with hard-edged detailing, vivid action sequences, jaunty dialogue, and that ever-darkening atmosphere. Classy entertainment, then, finely balanced between goofy hijinks and tearjerking melodrama.

Pub Date: April 21st, 1980
Publisher: Putnam