Victor Carl, borderline shyster (Falls the Shadow, 2005, etc.), takes on the case of The Un-Fab Five.
Fifteen years ago, five Philly street kids who’d grown up together—minor rascals, not hardened delinquents—accidentally managed to pull off a major heist, netting among other glittering prizes a Rembrandt. Flash-forward to a sickroom in the present, where an elderly Greek virago lies ready to expire as soon as she sees her son Charlie. She wants Victor to arrange it despite Charlie’s problematic relationship with law enforcement and his estrangement from his boyhood chums. It’s true as well, it turns out, that Charlie isn’t so sure he wants to see Ma, deathbed or no. A complementary plotline concerns what must have been one of the most memorable nights in Victor’s 30-something life, a night of revelry capped by a generously proportioned bright-red tattoo. The problem here is that Victor can’t remember anything about that night, including Chantal Adair. So who is the woman whose name is emblazoned on his chest? It’s nice to see these two plotlines merge, but it really shouldn’t have taken 400 pages.
Victor does dry and witty well enough to earn him a place among picaresque heroes, but whatever happened to taut and tight?