Hilarious first novel and sendup of the Mafia, by the author of Devil's Night (1990), Members of the Tribe (1988), etc. Foreign correspondent and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner William Gordon (real name ``Velvel'' Grossman to his Jewish family) comes home for a respite as a columnist on the Tribune, pursues his bisexual but largely lesbian movie-star girlfriend Jupiter Evans, and finds himself the main inheritor of his late uncle Max, a Jewish mobster whose ties to the Mafia go back 50 years. In fact, Uncle Max is second only to the Godfather himself, 77-year-old Don Luigi Spadafore, who sits home in Brooklyn and tries to speak as wisely as Don Corleone. When the will is read, Velvel's uncle has left him $500 million in businesses: ``fifteen percent of the action on the Brooklyn docks, a third of the union operation, the Colombian business, the lottery tickets....'' It's all there but it's not there--Don Luigi has assumed full ownership. However, Don Luigi's consigliere Carlo Sesti has had an inspired idea: to take Velvel into the family's more legitimate operations, on a $5 million retainer, plus one third of the future haul, if prizewinner Gordon will use his entree with the more crooked world leaders to expand the mob's territory on a global basis. Gordon feels burnt out as a columnist, thinks that endless wealth will help Jupiter resolve her bisexual problem, says yes. His older, closest friend, deputy city editor John Farrell, signs himself on as Velvel's consigliere for dealing with Carlo Sesti. Farrell is an irrepressibly outrageous drunk, the fount of the novel's bubbling fun, and his ``masterminding'' leads Velvel and himself into a full-scale war with Don Luigi's vast army of hoods. Freshness everywhere, especially when Velvel goes on Peter Jennings's evening news show to describe Don Luigi: ``This Luigi Spadafore is a ridiculous old man who sits around in a smoking jacket covered with spaghetti sauce and talks in parables that would embarrass a third grader.''