Nine stories featuring homeboy Nick Delvecchio, the Brooklyn p.i. who gets the shakes whenever he has to cross the border into Manhattan. All have appeared before—the earliest in 1985—and it probably isn’t accidental that the two most intriguing are the two most recent. In “Like a Stranger” (1996), Nick finds himself being stalked by a man who insists that they’re old friends, that they went to high school together, that they shared good times he wants to reminisce about. When Nick confronts the stalker with incontrovertible evidence that none of this is true, the would-be friend becomes a deadly enemy. In “The Old Dons” (1999), Brooklyn’s once-preeminent godfather (now emeritus) feels free to call on Nick for help because of the close, mutually beneficial relationship he had over many years with Nick’s dad. Now he’s being blackmailed, the old don says. His daughter, the rock star, can be linked to a murder unless the blackmailer is suitably compensated. A bent cop and two more fierce old dons become involved before Nick achieves the results his client hopes for. Both stories receive the kind of sure-handed treatment you’d expect from a writer with Randisi’s credentials, but the seven others are merely jumped-up anecdotes that might better have gone uncollected.
At his best, Randisi (Murder is the Deal of the Day, 1999, etc.) can give his work a nice noir patina that is mostly missing here.