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by Don Winslow
St Martin's Press, July 1998
288 pages
ISBN: 0312966172

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Don Winslow is an under-appreciated comic genius. At his best he belongs right up there with Hiassen, Westlake, and Leonard, and he's at his best in this loose, sprawling howler of a thriller.

Neal Carey, an erstwhile graduate student and extremely reluctant private investigator, is trying to finish up his thesis on Tobias Smollett when his mentor calls him with an assignment. At first it seems simple enough: Polly Paget has charged her former boss, the high profile head of the Family Cable Network, with rape. Nobody's likely to believe her, however, because she's got big hair, a dirty mouth, and awful grammar. Neal's job is to transform her from trailer trash into a credible media presence. Polly is no pliant Eliza Doolittle, though, and there are a whole lot of people interested in shutting her up permanently, so Neal has his hands full.

The cast includes an aging hit man, a porn king, tabloid reporters, and a wonderfully drawn Mormon former FBI agent with a heavy crush on the network exec's wife.

The story is one hilarious high-speed romp that takes the reader from the high desert of northern Nevada to a porn convention in glitzy Las Vegas. The climax takes place at a Mafia-built ramshackle amusement park called Candyland that features such attractions as The Circle of Life Ferris Wheel and The Richard Milhouse Nixon Roller-Coaster Ride.

Winslow was nominated for an Edgar for the first in this series, and his writing has only gotten better as it's evolved. This writer delivers one heck of a ride.

Reviewed by Carroll Johnson, May 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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