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Publishers Weekly, 1998-01-05 Mixing crime and comedy in Key West into fluffy confections has worked well for Shames, but his latest (after Virgin Heat) falls a little flat. Maybe it's because the ingredients are so familiar: a spunky young woman who sells ads for a local handout but yearns to break a big story; an earnest ex-Wall Streeter who runs a struggling guest house; a gaggle of Russian mobsters skimming American cream at the ocean's edge. Toss in a pair of philosophical drifters living in an abandoned giant hot dog and a couple of old men in various stages of eccentricity and you've got a book with a terminal case of the cutes. There are bright moments: when Mangrove Arms owner Aaron Katz wakes at 5 a.m. "because the woman who was supposed to do the breakfast called to say her tattoo had started bleeding underneath her skin and she couldn't work that day." Or when Aaron's half-batty father overhears some Russian-speakers in a Key West bar and is transported back to his East European youth. Or when Suki Sperakis, New Jersey's gift to Key West journalism, tries to convince a local cop to call in the FBI after she has been strangled and left for dead by a Russian who runs a chain of T-shirt shops ("The FBI? Suki, jampacked 747s are falling from the sky, large public buildings are being blown off their foundations, small wars are being fought against skinhead lunatics in Idaho and Texas, and I'm supposed to call the FBI because you don't like the T-shirt shops?"). Sad to say, it would take many more such moments to make this light, trite souffl? stand. $250,000 ad/promo; special promotion in which 10 booksellers will win a trip to Key West. (Mar.)
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