I bought this book a couple years ago at the Kirkwood Book Fair because it was a book upon which a movie was based. Funny, I remember seeing the advertisements in 1984 for the film, but I’ve never seen the film. I’ll have to finagle a copy somewhere now so I can compare the two.
Because this book is pretty good. It’s a 70s Mob In New York sort of book. All of the characters, no matter how minor, are evil or are crass and ultimately are not good people, but within the Mob milieu, you start residing in an alternate universe where the most sympathetic bad guy is the protagonist you identify with. Mob/grifter books share this with vampire books, oddly enough. In this particular instance, Charlie is a smalltime grifter who, as his position as restaurant manager, cheats by skimming from the top of the vending machine receipts, guzzling free drinks all night, and sometimes keeping entrees off of the bill for a small gratuity. He needs a small score to get out from under hock and to pay for his divorce from a mobster’s daughter. His cousin Paulie comes up with a simple score, and they go for it. An off-duty cop dies, and then Paulie lets on it was a mobster’s money they stole.
The plot moves along well. There are enough interesting people working together or at cross purposes, and the author cuts between them effectively. However, the ending was a little letdown. Still, I liked the book.