DIRTY MONEY by Ray Russell


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Two Feds, a Latin-American cocaine king, and a would-be Mafia queen are the principals of this fast-paced caper from a reliable entertainer best known, perhaps, for Princess Pamela (1979). Vegas: a Mafia hit man is preparing to ice a showgirl when masks are dropped to reveal intervening FBI Special Agent Dodd and Field Investigator Kittering from Justice, our venal hero and incorruptible heroine. Both have a professional interest in putting away Mafia boss Salvatore Ricci, while Dodd has an entirely unprofessional interest in the $400,000 he extracts from Ricci before shooting him. Kittering, seeking to save Dodd from himself, whisks the money into a post-office box before being kidnapped by cocaine biggie Vasquez, Ricci's supplier and ""El Presidente"" of La Calavera, a desolate island south of Argentina (the action moves between there and Washington). For verification, Vasquez obligingly sends Washington the tip of Kittering's left pinkie; Dodd returns the favor by bringing him Ricci's severed head (packed in dry ice in a hatbox), a daring overture that almost costs Dodd his life. There will be many such hairbreadth escapes for Dodd and Kittering, who are battling both E1 Presidente and his wife (and Ricci's sister) Rosa Maria, a raunchy, tough-talking, razor-wielding First Lady; but they are experts at winging it, and the fun here is of the ""watch them get out of this one"" variety. A partial denouement has Vasquez busted at Dulles airport, Rosa bigamously married to another G-man in Canada, and the money, thanks to post. office carelessness, in the possession of a Russian Embassy spy. Light as a feather, but told with Russell's customary zest and panache; it's a pleasure to watch a professional exhibit Feydeauesque skills as he maneuvers his people in and out of impossible situations.

Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 1987
Publisher: St. Martin's