Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review of Devil’s Food by Anthony Bruno (Forge, 1997)

Responsible for letting a prison riot get out of hand, its been a long descent from deputy warden for Loretta Kovacs. Now she is at the last chance saloon – the jump squad, aka the New Jersey Parole Violators Search Unit. Single, overweight and still anxious after her ordeal of being tortured by a prisoner, she’s determined to hold down the job, taking night classes to get into law school. Her first case is a make or break deal: failure to track down and recapture Martha Lee Spooner - a savvy embezzeler who’s skipped bail and run off with a biker gang's money - she’s out of a job. Her partner, Frank Marvelli has other things on his mind though, namely the health of his wife, dying from cancer. They soon discover that Spooner is in Florida, working at a scam at the WeightAway resort, a place where fat people pay to be tortured for not being thin; a place that holds bad memories for Kovacs. After a bit of persuasion Marvelli agrees to travel to Florida, but only for one night. But Kovacs and Marvelli are not the only people after Spooner; the Feds also have her in their sights and so do the biker gang.

Devil’s Food is a comic crime caper and a fun read. With an oddball set of characters, a slightly screwball plot, snappy dialogue, it rattles along at a quick pace. The first couple of chapters were excellent, before it settles down into a mostly solid read, occasionally sparking back into top form. There are a couple of places where the plot becomes a little threadbare or overly farcical, but they soon pass. The condition of Marvelli’s wife adds a welcome slice of pathos to contrast with some of the madcap action, but nonetheless I spent a lot of time reading with a smirk on my face and occasionally guffawing aloud. Overall, an enjoyable piece of non-weighty reading that provided a bit of much needed light relief.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

So few good comic novels. Humor is difficult--very individual. Why don't I find Monty Python, Wallace and Gromit or Mel Brooks funny? Because I don't like slapstick, I guess.