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IN THE CLEAR by Steve Lopez

IN THE CLEAR

By Steve Lopez

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-15-100284-3
Publisher: Harcourt

A Jersey Shore town resists the march of progress with a few well-placed explosives, causing no end of trouble for its amiable sheriff—in a crime and culture tale from LA Times columnist and Greater Philly specialist Lopez (The Sunday Macaroni Club, 1997, etc.).

An inlet and a few sloughs have protected Harbor Light, New Jersey, from being metastasized by neighboring Atlantic City. But those natural barriers weren’t enough to keep out Bargain Acres, a mega-mart that sucked the life out of the Main Street patrolled by handsome football-hero-turned-sheriff Albert LaRosa. Albert’s life took a really rough turn when he was a young cop in Philadelphia, and he’s been lying low, licking his wounds on the largely no-problem island where he was born nearly 50 years ago. He drinks too much, smokes, and has failed to do right by Rickie, the beautiful, hotheaded, redhead rebel turned restaurateur he’s loved since high school, even when he was married to somebody else. But Albert’s finally catching a big break. Oscar Price, proprietor of a big Atlantic City casino, has just taken the sheriff for his first-ever Ferrari ride and made him a sweet offer: He’ll pay Albert double his current salary to be head of security at the casino he expects to install in town. Sure, a few gambling laws will need to be changed, a causeway put in, the bit of local commerce that’s hung on will be steamrolled, and an unspoiled village will be history. But there’ll be jobs aplenty dealing blackjack, and won’t that be great? No, say Rickie, her moody son Jack, Albert’s hotheaded hardware-dealer father, and most of the rest of his friends. Before Albert can change their minds, Price’s Ferrari explodes and Bargain Acres goes up in flames. Twice. And so does the affair with Rickie. As Albert sifts through clues, a lovely future fades.

Richard Ford with a sense of humor.