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 Politics and cocaine spinalize Condon's latest black comedy, a strong improvement over his Emperor of America (1989). Many old friends from Condon's earlier works return here, including the Prizzis of Brooklyn and Wambly Keifetz, the head of Bahama Beaver Bonnet Co., who keeps all the Prizzi zillions in a vault in his cellar. But the hero is handsome, vacuous Owney Hazman, a former vendor of novelty cigarette lighters who has struck it nice by marrying into the frankfurter business and becoming top salesman for his wife Dolly's father. Owney, though, is haunted by his mother's having deserted him at age nine and leaving him with his sick father. Twenty years later his mother (``Her eyes were like Delft dinner plates on a snowfield'') discovers him at a racetrack and recognizes him instantly as her son. She's now Oona Noon, who's inherited her late husband's 72 oil tankers that were used to haul cocaine for the Medell°n/Prizzi combo, has billions (tax-free) laundered away in Prizzi's banks, and now wants to sell her supertankers to the Chinese to finance her new idiot husband's run for the presidency. She hires Owney, who still doesn't know she's the mother he's been seeking, to be her well-paid messenger boy. But Owney's singing wife Dolly suddenly has a hit record, is making $43 million a year, and he's vastly embarrassed to be making less. When Oona sells her tankers to the Prizzis, not to the Chinese, her world momentarily collapses and Owney winds up with $4.3 billion in tax-free bearer bonds. Then Oona wants Owney to be her husband's vice-president, and Condon has a joyride with the candidates' duplicities with a stupefied public. A richly memorable high point is Dolly's climactic meeting with Oona (who is wearing a demure chinchilla body stocking), and the two women's comparisons of the world's wealthiest ladies' restrooms. Mind-boggling detail for skulduggery, and great fun. The ``final addiction'' is to the public's stupidity.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-06353-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991


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