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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Barry Fantoni - Harry Lipkin P.I

review by Ro Bennett live on show 19th July 2012
Kindle £6.78
Hardback £12.99 (Amazon £7.14)
Audio (unabridged) £9.22

I enjoyed this book, it’s a light, easy, humorous read and unusual as the private detective is not the normal hardbitten, tough ex maverick cop - he is an ex cop but he is a mild eight-seven year old and Jewish, so the genre could be described as soft-boiled detective fiction.

The author Barry Fantoni who was born on 28th February 1940 is a writer, comic strip cartoonist and jazz musician of Italian and Jewish descent, most famous for his work with the magazine Private Eye. So it is, as to be expected, a clever book full of typical Yiddish humour and the reader is given a light hearted insight into aspects of Judaism and tongue in the cheek pokes at the Jewish lifestyle as a bonus. Each chapter begins with a delightful pencil sketch which presumably has been drawn by the author.

Harry who lives in Florida is hired by a wealthy woman in her mid seventies to investigate a series of thefts from her mansion in Miami. She explains, quote: ‘Someone in my home is stealing from me. Someone I employ. Trust. Care for. Treat like one of the family.’ A tear rolled down her cheek.

So Harry begins to investigate the five staff who are all suspects. He looks into their backgrounds and whether or not they have habits or circumstances which might lead to them being tempted to steal from their employer.

Here’s a typical extract describing Harry’s neighbourhood and next door neighbours:
‘The Feldmans were heading off for an early-bird supper. It was the evening they went to Mario’s Pasta and Pizza House...
I also ate at Mario’s when my dentures felt up to it. His pizzas were only so-so but I like him. After six vodkas I liked him a lot.
Mario was born in the Ukraine. His real name was Igor. Before he came to the USA Igor had never heard of a pizza. He’d never eaten a pizza. And he sure as hell never cooked one. But it didn’t bother him. To Mario a pizza was a flat lump of dough with burnt edges that just about fits on the plate and is covered with tomato sauce and hot sausage and melted cheese you can’t chew or cut... A pizza. It’s a pizza. Nothing to it. Everyone except an Italian would agree with him.
The Feldmans were in line at the free bus stop along with two dozen other starving Jews who hadn’t eaten anything since lunch. Apart from the two slices of apple cake and maybe a little fruit salad. Warmheart ran its own free bus service for citizens over sixty. So that meant everyone.’

Despite the easy going pace and the wry humor, there is action and suspense. But it’s not too gory or gruesome or crammed with gratuitous violence or raunchy, explicit sex scenes... so perfect for a light weight crime reader like me!

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