Kensington, Jun 2004, 14.00, 256 pp.
In Little Italy, Sonny Magro lays dead in the street just outside the church where Father Giannini led the Mass. Afterward, attendee Joey Dee looks at the blood flowing in the gutter as a reminder of his quest to leave New York for Vegas with his girlfriend, whose father lies in the street dead. While Joey stares at the corpse, his friend Vito Santero joins him. Vito had his brains knocked out of him by Sister Agnes so he cannot put much cogent thoughts together. He tells his only pal Joey that he saw the thugs who work for crime kingpin Nicky Mole toss Sonny off the roof.
Joey panics because he knows that Vito cannot be quiet and does not know the danger of mouthing. Not long afterward, Nicky's hooligans realize that Joey knows they killed Sonny. Not wanting to commit a homicide so soon after the previous one, the Mole mob hire Joey as a chauffeur to keep an eye on him until they can decides how to dispose of their new employee and the eye witness.
JOEY DEE GETS WISE is an intriguing urban crime Noir without a professional sleuth. The story line grips the reader with its dark look at life in the city contrasted against the gala of an Italian Feast (those are worth the trip to the Big Apple). Except for Joey and the mean streets of New York, the support characters feel more like caricatures out of the New York Italian stereotype handbook. Louisa Ermelino who makes tours of Manhattan neighborhoods intriguing (see SISTERS MALLONE) serves as a wonderful guide of Little Italy.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner