BROKEN MACHINES by Michael I. Leahey


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First-time novelist Leahey, who’s obviously read all of Rex Stout and much of the slug first/think later brigade, introduces New York private consultants J.J. Donovan, a divorced action hero, and his Wolfe-sized, superbrained partner, Dr. Boris Koulamzin, who, in their debut case, try to discover the killer of part-time prostitute Ruby Brice, leaving her ten-year-old son, the too-wise Clifford, an orphan at the mercy of the welfare system. A derelict witness to the crime dies, as does another woman. All three deaths occur within walking distance of the National Manufacturing Corporation in Brooklyn, a shoddily managed firm co-owned by sleazy Stanley Greenberg, slimy Morty Katz, and Katz’s dangerously unbalanced son Alvin. Applying there for a job, Donovan is hired by Greenberg to discover if the Katz duo is embezzling from the company. One worker dies, another is pummeled by a goon with a scorpion tattoo, and Donovan uncovers gunrunning as well as business malfeasance by all three owners before Donovan's ex-wife Kate, a dishy fashion-magazine editor, takes part in a sting operation, the factory blows up, and dear little Clifford is almost dispatched to meet his mom before a last-minute rescue.

An uneasy combination of the profane and the wacky, with heavy-duty swearing from the villains alternating with outrageously antic behavior from Donovan's doorman, a neighbor, and Boris's hound. Facile Leahey needs to decide whether he wants to be hard-boiled or terminally cute.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-26130-6
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2000