A popular meteorologist with a knack for accurate predictions clashes with gangsters in Rollins’ debut thriller.
As a boy, Tony Bartolicotti had a feeling for sudden shifts in the weather that was more reliable than weathermen’s forecasts. As a result, he headed to school for a meteorology degree, where his hard-to-pronounce surname earned him the nickname “Tony Partly Cloudy.” When Tony eventually finds himself in front of the TV cameras, his casual demeanor and strong Brooklyn accent make him a hit—but it’s his spot-on weather projections that pique bookies’ interest, and it’s not long before Las Vegas thugs come calling. Rollins’ novel at times defies genre expectations; for example, large sections focus solely on Tony’s budding career, including his time with the National Weather Service in Key West, Fla. But it often serves up a smart mix of calm and uneasiness, particularly in scenes involving members of the mob. Even the glad-handing “Uncle Jimmy” Carbone, who treats Tony like kin, is patently dangerous; when he leads a group of gangsters away on business and returns with one less man, it’s abundantly clear what happened. In one notable scene, which gets its own chapter, Jimmy talks to Tony’s boss, who refuses to let Tony audition for an on-air position; Jimmy somehow manages to sound both reasonable and intimidating—without ever making an actual threat. Tony does tend to perpetuate Italian-American stereotypes, particularly in his TV persona, in which he repeatedly says things like “bada bing” and “capisce”; however, this fact is acknowledged in the story and quite tellingly so: As Tony’s forecasts gain viewers, copycats inevitably follow, emphasizing ethnicity as if it were a novelty. Tony’s genuine love of the weather is endearing, although his frequent misunderstandings can be distracting (not to mention puzzling, as he’s a college graduate), such as when he uses the term “carrot catcher” instead of “caricature.”
A consistently engaging dramatic thriller.