Years ago, I saw Wag the Dog, a wickedly funny movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro. Hilary Henkin and David Mamet wrote the screenplay, based on a novel by Larry Beinhart. I’d never read this author’s work until now. And boy, am I glad I did.
It’s not every day you read a crime thriller with a seventy-year-old protagonist. Often, people that age are portrayed as quirky, talkative, and harmless. But not Tony Casella. This guy is still dangerous. And he doesn’t say all that much. Though he’d like nothing better than to save his house and enjoy the Catskills vibe, the universe isn’t having it. There’s work to do, and Tony is the man.
I enjoyed the writing style immensely. It’s terse, mordant, and sometimes downright hilarious. We’re talking about contract killing here, but this story was fun. Oh, and just when you’ve had enough of the east coast, we’re off to Austria for a ski trip. I don’t ski, but reading the author’s descriptions, I could almost feel the powder on my skin.
If you’re looking for a different kind of novel with plenty of bad guys, I recommend picking up The Deal Goes Down. Then, rent Wag the Dog.
A legendary, Edgar-Award winning writer returns, and so does his legendary detective, with a gripping thriller about marital discord, contract killing, off-piste skiing and the deep state…
Ex-private eye Tony Casella lives in the Catskill mountains, a lonely old tough guy whose body can no longer do what it once did. His wife and son are dead; his daughter barely talks to him; his bank is in the process of foreclosing on his home.
But a chance encounter with a rich young woman on a train changes everything. He is hired to take care of her superrich, sexual predator husband. That job leads to others and he joins a small start-up whose mission is to save women from abusive marriages. Provided their spouses are in the top 0.01%. It’s a luxury service destined to make great profits.
Tony’s problems seem to be over, but are they? An old, angry associate is determined to get his cut of Tony’s earnings, murky government agents start to tail him, and when he is sent to the Austrian alps to kill a Russian oligarch and rescue his American wife, all hell breaks loose…
Packed with action The Deal Goes Down is an unforgettable portrait of a Lion in Winter who still has a few tricks up his sleeve, from a writer garlanded with awards and critical acclaim and whose novel American Hero was made into the classic film, Wag the Dog.