A beleaguered bail bondsman, a storied violin and a shaggy dog of a fiddle.
Herman Jackson wasn’t always a bail bondsman in St. Paul, Minn. Circumstances over which he had limited control sent him scurrying out of Detroit, the law at his heels. Up until then he’d been a bookie with a name that wasn’t Herman Jackson. In “the capital of Midwest nice,” he finds life pleasant enough until the day a blonde shows up packing a violin. Her brother, she tells Herman, is in the lock-up. She wants him sprung and offers the violin as security for the requisite $18,000. It’s an extremely valuable Amati, she declares. That may or may not be true, Herman discovers. So it is with pretty much everything Amy Cox has to say. She may or may not have a brother; she may or may not be Amy Cox; and the instrument may or may not be an Amati. It is, however, an authentic MacGuffin. Avidly on its trail are some seriously bent cops and some endlessly resourceful Gypsies. As for the alleged Amy Cox, she is very soon dead, leaving a perplexed Herman caught in the middle of a scam whose origins go back 50 years.
Over-plotted, but the amiable protagonist and colorful supporting cast provide much compensation in Thompson’s promising debut.