Neal Carey has to keep the mob, the FBI, and a major television personality from killing his newest client -- but he's tempted to do the job himself.
Sometime student and ever-reluctant detective Neal Carey would rather be finishing a dull doctoral thesis than staring down the nose of a loaded gun -- but his new assignment doesn't sound dangerous. All he has to do is pull off the ultimate makeover: turn Polly Paget --a gum-chewing, foul-mouthed, big-haired broad -- into a perfect lady in time to testify in a rape case against Jack Landis, head of the Family Cable Network and America's most beloved family man. But Polly isn't cooperating, and everyone -- including a former FBI agent, an obsessive-compulsive hit man, the Mafia, a porn prince, and a slew of tabloid reporters -- is on her trail, turning Neal's ''simple'' assignment into a deadly game of duck-duck-goose.
In a hellish and hilarious escapade that takes him from the deserts of Nevada to the bright lights of Las Vegas and finally to a hair-raising climax in a shoddily built amusement park, Neal tries to escape the mob's big guns while taking a slippery walk up the world's biggest water slide.
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DON WINSLOW is the author of thirteen books and has also written for film and television. On his way to becoming a writer, he did a number of things to make a living -- private investigator, safari guide, actor, and theater director, among others. His first novel, A Cool Breeze on the Underground (Book 1 in the Neal Carey Mysteries), was nominated for an Edgar Award, and California Fire and Life received the Shamus Award. He now lives in Southern California.From Kirkus Reviews:
A change of pace for Neal Carey, who's been petulantly hunting down people for the Friends of the Family (Way Down on the High Lonely, 1993, etc.). This time, Joe Graham and the other Friends want him to keep much-hunted Polly Paget under wraps in the Nevada desert while he cleans up her grammar, her diction, and her act before she goes on network TV to denounce her boss, Jackson Landis, founder and majority owner of the Family Cable Network, as a rapist. The real change, though, is in the tone of this caper. Neal's intellectually elitist mysticism wouldn't cut it as Polly's pursued by (1) a former FBI agent working for Jackson Landis and Candy, his wife and partner in a new theme park to be called (of course) Candyland; (2) a porn prince eager to sign Polly to a centerfold contract; (3) an unsavory developer who whitewashes his silent partnership in Candyland by going to confession every day; and (4) a hit man whose obsessive professionalism can't hide the fact that he keeps missing the target. So Winslow wisely shuffles Neal offstage for long, foolishly amusing stretches while Candy tracks down Polly and bonds with her; the senior Friends, learning that the New Orleans mob is moving in on Jack's empire, tiptoe away from backing Polly; and all parties concerned scramble to come out on top in a final tarantella worthy of Donald E. Westlake. Not as distinctive as Neal's earlier adventures, but the broadest, loosest, funniest of them all. It's great to see Neal taking a break from his M.A. thesis on that stinker Smollett without getting all hung up for a change. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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