Monday, July 12, 2010

Book Review: Vinnie's Head

A new feature here on Artgirl Island...random book reviews by moi

I just finished Vinnie's Head, a debut novel by Marc Lecard.  As one of the official book reviewers pointed out, it's a mixture of The Sopranos, Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard...set in the bad streets of New York.

As the book jacket explains: "Life has not gone smoothly for Long Island lowlife Johnnie LoDuco.  A promising career as a petty thief, vagrant, pornographer and mooch has stalled, and Johnnie is at loose ends.  Hiding out in a friend's garage, he's trying to come up with his next move. Johnnie thought he was about to relocate to Paraguay to help his friend Vinnie make millions in the perfect scam.  It seemed like a smart career decision.  But while fishing from the town dock to supplement his measger hideout diet of ramen noodles, Johnnie snagged a severed head: Vinnie's. It looked like the Paraguay trip was off."

Snippets of snappy dialogue:

Johnnie on waiting in the car and being surprised by Stosh the bounty hunter:  "A head suddenly appeared in the side window, right at my elbow.  A large head, like a ham in a hairpiece.  It was instantly joined by a large hand holding an even larger gun, which gleamed in the sunlight."

Johnnie on the Mafia thug who thinks he has stolen $12 million from him:  "Malatesta held out his hand; shaking it felt like gripping a wet paper bag of bread sticks."

Johnnie on the picture in his fake passport that Vinnie had made for him:  "Me, of course, I looked like s***, dorky, furtive, an obvious 'Please step over here, sir' kind of guy."

Johnnie on hiding at Vinnie's house:  "So, okay, I had the house to myself.  All I had to do was stay inside and not annoy the neighbors.  Stay inside and attract no attention at all.  I figured I could handle it."

Johnnie on the decor of Vinnie's house:  "Everything in Vinnie's house was made of metal and glass, even the chairs.  It looked good, I have to say.  But I had never been so uncomfortable, not since my parents made me go to church.  The metal chair swere harder than church pews; my a** was permanently asleep, perhaps broken for life."

Johnnie on Vinnie's girlfriend Jennifer examining Vinnie's free-floating head:  "Jennifer frowned at the head critcally, as if it wasn't living up to her expectations.  She bent down and looked at the crown of the head carefully - she wasn't squeamish, I'll give her that.  With her fingertips, she turned the head from side to side.  Then she began to rummage through the remaining hair, like someone looking for a lost golf ball in deep grass."

Johnnie on the serial killer Bogdan who was helping him evade the Mafia:  "Bogdan was sadly putting the head into the plastic garbage bag.  He looked like he was putting away a bowling ball after losing the big tournament."

Johnnie on the serial killer Bogdan negotiating with the SWAT team while holed up with several hostages in is ex-girlfriend's nail salon:  "Suddenly, Bogdan's voice boomed out like the voice of an angry god from the tinny little speaker in the ceiling of the nail salon.  'Attention!' he boomed.  'Attention, please!  This is Hostage Taker One.  I want to talk to Carbone.'

There's more of course, but that gives you the general flavor of the book. 

My recommendation:  If you like Carl Hiaasen, you'll love this book.  Great summer reading.  I give it 3 heads out of a possible 4.  Go Johnnie! Go Marc!

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