ACT OF REVENGE by Robert K. Tanenbaum


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Fasten your seat belts for the bumpiest ride in Butch Karp’s long career with the New York D.A.’s office: a case that expands till it gobbles up his wife and daughter. Butch’s latest brief is the execution of Salvatore Bollano capo regime Eddie Catalano, whose rival Joe Pigetti, the obvious candidate for pulling off the hit, has an alibi this wide. While Butch duels with US Attorney Thomas Colombo over who talks to whom about what with which guarantees, his wife, domestic-abuse-vigilante Marlene Ciampi, is busy with her own nest of hornets far from the usual turf of her security agency: the widow of Jumping Jerry Fein, who dived from the observation deck of the Empire State Building 20 years ago, suddenly wants the case reopened. (Why now? wonders Marlene. And why do so many people object?) Busiest of all, though, is Butch and Marlene’s daughter Lucy, 12, who was witness to a murder at the Asia Mall. Now the shooter is very interested in Lucy and the two friends who were with her, Mary Ma and Asia Mall offspring Janice Chen. In real life, or in Tanenbaum’s last novel (Irresistible Impulse, 1997), these three cases would never come within a mile of each other; here, they’re wound together tightly enough to make most readers beg for Motrin. As usual, Tanenbaum pulls off a hundred effective scenes in a dozen different tones—his affection for Butch’s knockabout, have-it-all family is neatly balanced by his brisk malice in showing them and their legion of well-armed allies facing down killers and kidnappers and TV hosts—but the mind-boggling plot, which Marlene compares to an Elizabethan revenge tragedy even while complications are still getting phoned in, drowns in double-crosses, legal maneuvers, and killings. And it’s no surprise when the climax shows Marlene under deadly attack by two parties who don’t even know of each other’s existence. It all adds up to too much of a very good thing indeed.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-06-019218-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1999


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