The Deal Goes Down

Melville House. Aug. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781612199900. $27.99. M
Edgar Award winner Beinhart (The Librarian) returns with a new novel starring detective Tony Casella (last seen in 1991’s Foreign Exchange). Now a 70-year-old ex-PI, Casella boards a train in upstate New York. In the club car, he’s approached by a woman he’s never met who asks if he can kill her bad—and fabulously wealthy—husband. Tony’s broke, his house is up for foreclosure; he says yes. It needs to be done soon, before the husband can hide his money. Eventually, Tony notches up three kills, though none in ways he expected. En route, everything that can go wrong does. An associate tries to take Tony’s earnings. Government agents trail him. He’s sent to Switzerland to assassinate a truly scary Russian oligarch. One of the great creations in the book is Tony’s accomplice, Allison, a young sex worker who looks like (and was) a Bard College undergraduate. An interesting twist: Beinhart appears as a character in his own novel. As one might expect of the author whose novel American Hero morphed into the DeNiro film Wag the Dog, Beinhart is a sly dog who glories in surprise twists and lards his story with unexpected land mines.
VERDICT There’s enough action in this thoroughly enjoyable comedy of errors to please the most discriminating reader, but it’s the humor that captures. For fans of crime capers and Donald Westlake’s “Dortmunder” tales.
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