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 Hilariously cynical take on small-time ethnic politicos and other craven creeps in the City of Brotherly Love, from an award-winning former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist. Abandoning the mawkish sentimentality of Third and Indiana (1994), his mean-streets social-realist debut, Lopez now goes for a fiercely funny epic that pits the feckless members of a creaking, contentedly sleazy old-time South Philly political machine against idealistic, terminally beautiful Assistant D.A. Lisa Savitch and her street-wise, ``part-time'' FBI agent sidekick, Mike Muldoon. Lopez uses a deliriously complicated plot to deliver a stinging satire. It seems that former US Senator Augie Sangiamo, who listens to Sinatra while chowing down with his cronies on pasta and ``gravy'' every Sunday afternoon, wants to maintain his weakening hold on his turbulent, working-class neighborhood by using illegal campaign funds drawn from Atlantic City casinos to buy elections for the grandly corrupt State Representative William ``Ham'' Flaherty and Common Pleas Judge Isadore ``Izzy'' Weiner. The ambitious D.A., who once sent Sangiamo to jail, wants Savitch, an athletic, cigarette-puffing import from Boston who can't quite manage the local patois, to ``bring me the heads of these dinosaurs so we can stuff them, mount them and put them on display at the Academy of Natural Science.'' Savitch is more interested in investigating a release of toxic fumes from the city's oil refinery, and, meanwhile, Muldoon can't keep his eyes off Savitch's legs. Throughut, comically vile insiders square off against stiff, feckless outsiders and only the morally upright seem to suffer. As Muldoon says, ``we end up with bribery, a white-collar scandal, a public health epidemic, two murders, thirty-seven felony counts. Where's our bonus?'' While it lacks the depth of Tom Wolfe's Bonfire, Lopez's scathingly sarcastic top-to-bottom exploration of urban corruption overwhelms with dead-on characterizations and lingering belly-laughs. (First printing of 50,000; $50,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-15-100264-9
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997


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