Page-turner of the week
Palookas packing heat, dames with daggers and cops with itchy palms can make life complicated for a small-time private dick. It's 1959, and when a mysterious stunner with gams up to here breathlessly begs for help, a gentleman has no choice but to match her cigarette, stare into those baby blues and lend a hand. Too bad P.I. Ike Van Savage doesn't know his quivering client is married to one of the most murderous Mob bosses this side of Sicily.
It's a fast-talking Humphrey Bogart world, but in the hands of a lesser writer, all the gun molls and tough guys—even names like Ike Van Savage—might run the story into a brick wall of clichés. The first-person narrative is heavy on plot and dialogue and light on superfluous atmospherics. Kelly's leading man is likable and even his rough-and-tumble pals have hidden hearts of gold. It's a book you can start and finish by the same fire-place log. (Hyperion, $23.95)
Bottom Line: Tough guys, easy read