JOEY DEE GETS WISE by Louisa Ermelino

JOEY DEE GETS WISE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Cool, brash, but familiar first novel--set on the mob-dominated streets of Little Italy--that's noteworthy for avoiding a romanticizing of the criminals. Ermelino writes with the deadpan irony by now typical of the genre; where her novel stands out is in its focus--not so much on the gangsters as on the residents of Little Italy who are affected by the mob without being "connected": school dropout Joey Dee (pampered by his mother, abused by his father, who actually expects him to get a job) is unlucky enough to know who murdered and mutilated one Sonny Magro before throwing him from a roof; rub-out witness Vito Santero (brain-damaged since a nun swatted him in school) can't quit babbling to Joey and the mob-friendly priest; the sexy, independent widow, Carolina Magro, knows she was born to something better than poverty and catches the eye first of mobster Tommy California and then of the local godfather-type Nicky Mole; Carolina's daughter Josie shares her mother's bad reputation and makes love to Joey, who won't acknowledge their relationship in public. Against a backdrop of street festivals, rooftops, gossiping women in black, midwives with folkloric powers, and mobsters transacting business in Nicky Mole's cafe, Joey tries--with only partial success--to save his and Vito's skin, avoid Carolina'sseduction, and escape to a new life in Las Vegas with Josie. Fun for Mafia-fiction devotees: a sympathetic though coldeyed picture of the Little Italy community.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 1990
ISBN: 312-05451-3
Publisher: St. Martin's
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