Wondering how he ended up in yet another mess isn’t really a new question for Jersey Shore broker Austin Carr, who seems to have a unique talent for finding himself up to his eyes in one sticky wicket after another (Big Numbers, Big Money, Big Mojo). Unfortunately for Carr, he’s really gone and done it this time.
In a classic case of too little too late, Carr has finally decided to break ties with his partner at Shore Securities and make a fresh start. The hitch in that giddyap? His partner Vic Bonacelli is the son of infamous mobster Angelina “Mama Bones” Bonacelli, and no one just walks away from Mama Bones.
Complicating matters further, Carr’s best friend and confidant, Luis Guerrero, is arrested by crooked cops at the behest of mobster Johnny “The Turk” Korsay. Why? To put pressure on Carr, who witnessed The Turk commit a murder, or so The Turk is convinced.
And because Carr can never get out of his own way, he manages, in the midst of everything else, to turn his obsession with redheads into the ultimate Achilles’ heel when he hits on the wrong firebrand one too many times.
Now, Carr is caught between Mama Bones, who wants him alive to help run a part of her empire, and The Turk, who wants Carr dead because he’s the last piece standing between The Turk and expanding his empire into Mama Bones’ territory. Oh, and did I mention the illegal, underage sex ring and massive horse racing fix? Yeah… Carr is definitely in it up to his eyes. Again.
Author Jack Getze has created an unlikely lead in Austin Carr. After all, how many people are inclined to find a cocky, mouthy — Mama Bones calls him Smarty Pants — securities broker to be a sympathetic figure? Well, in Getze’s able hands Carr manages to strike just the right balance between ballsy and braggadocio, between serious and seriously funny. Getze also strikes just the right balance with the story’s tone, infusing some legitimately high-stakes situations and action — there are guns and death and motorcycle chases and sex and true peril —with just the right amount of humor to keep things from ever getting too dark.
In fact, if there is such a thing, Getze is the master of what I’d call the hard-core cozy: a story with enough real bite to be taken seriously, but which keeps a lighthearted undercurrent through the use of well-timed humor. And Carr definitely needs his sense of humor in Big Shoes, the fourth entry in the Carr series, as Getze has loaded up the obstacles for Carr to overcome. Luckily for both Carr and the reader, Carr’s ego, smart mouth, and patented “full-boat grin” are up to the challenge.
Big Shoes is available from Down & Out Books (ISBN: 978-1943402052).