Monday, July 27, 2020

That Old Dead Magic - Robert J. Randisi

Bob Randisi’s series of mystery novels featuring the Rat Pack is one of the very best mystery series of recent years, and it continues in very strong fashion with the 12th entry, THAT OLD DEAD MAGIC, set mostly in 1965. This time around, Eddie Gianelli, the narrator/protagonist who works as a fixer at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, is tasked with helping out Jerry Lewis, who is appearing at the Sands with Sammy Davis Jr. in an attempt to recapture some of the same sort of magic Lewis had with Dean Martin. As it turns out, Lewis is being blackmailed, and Eddie G. has to find out what’s behind it and put a stop to it.

At the same time, Eddie’s private eye friend Danny Bardini is involved in a different case that a beautiful young waitress/aspiring showgirl who’s also a friend of Eddie’s. Another friend, Big Jerry Epstein, a shady character from Brooklyn, is mixed up in that one, too. Then a murder takes place in each case, with the odd connection that the bodies are found in dumpsters. Could the cases possibly be connected? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out, but as usual with these well-plotted mysteries, don’t be so sure you have everything figured out until Randisi gets to the end of the tale he’s spinning.

Driven primarily by dialogue and action, THAT OLD DEAD MAGIC moves very fast and has humor, likable characters (and some suitably despicable ones), and little bits of detail that capture the setting and the time period perfectly. I remember the mid-Sixties quite well—better than I remember yesterday, I think sometimes—and Randisi does a great job of taking the reader back to that time. He’s also very skillful at working historical figures and incidents into his fictional narrative. I had a really fine time reading this novel and give it a high recommendation.

1 comment:

RJR said...

Thanks for the fine review, James.