When their friend Tommy Apple dies leaving them a million dollars and unanswered questions about his drug dealings, Joe and Judy Constantine are pressured to cooperate both with Tommy's cronies and with federal agents. 12,500 first printing.
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The sudden death (heart failure brought on, it turns out, by torture) of their generous wheeler-dealer friend Tommy Apple plunges Joe and Judy Constantine into a half-lit world of criminal scams and unscrupulous cops. First come the polite requests from deferential Inspector Rogers (Scotland Yard) and mysterious Oliver Stonehouse (the Home Office) and the more direct appeals of Hector Gutierrez, the strong right arm of charismatic entrepreneur Ray Fernandez. They all want a consignment of cocaine-filled wooden toys that Tommy spirited away en route from Hungary, and they all assume that Joe, who's gone in with Tommy on lots of legitimate-looking deals before, can find them. In due course, Joe does find them--but finds too that his troubles have just begun, as he decides to turn them over, first to the law, then to Fernandez, in an attempt to hide his own dirty secret (his one favor to Tommy, a sex-photo shoot of Helen Donovan and other bodies in Tunisia a few years before) by getting everybody off his back. By this time, though, Fernandez has launched a two-pronged seduction of both Constantines, Joe via visions of money and power--big ideas about the labyrinthine businesses Tommy's left the couple in his will--Judy via a more traditional method. In chapters narrated alternately by Joe and Judy, Alvarez (The Savage God, The Biggest Game in Town, etc.) deepens the aura of fatalistic gloom as this childless, loving, middle-aged couple finds their wishes coming true and their world coming apart. Slackly plotted--its title, despite Alvarez's best efforts, an empty promise--but still a highly effective mood piece, right down to the appropriately bleak anticlimax. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
When hustling wheeler-dealer Tommy Apple dies and leaves his fortune to friends Joe and Judy Constantine, they are suddenly catapulted into a nebulous underworld of drug deals, stolen shipments, and slum property management. No sooner is Tommy buried than Joe, a struggling commercial photographer, is brusquely cornered by the British police and Tommy's former associates. Where, they all want to know, is it ?--it being, first, a cocaine shipment hidden in a crate of Hungarian toys, and then the payment for the dope. Neither the law nor Ray Fernandez, a menacing American "businessman," leave Joe and his wife much choice but to enmesh themselves in the sordid machinations of Tommy's empire to find the contraband. Best known for his study of suicide ( The Savage God , LJ 4/1/72), Alvarez here creates a suspenseful if uneven and too-loosely plotted story, reminiscent of a later Dick Francis novel, but seedier and less engaging. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/91.
- Edward Cline, Palo Alto, Cal.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Random House, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0224027417