LAURENCE SHAMES – Sunburn. Joey Goldman #3. Hyperion, hardcover, 1994; paperback, 1995.

   I panned Shames’ [first novel], Florida Straits, but hope springs eternal,just like down-and-dirty Florida books seem to.

   Joey Goldman is still in Key West, and doing well in real estate. His natural father, the New York Godfather Vinny Delgado, is visiting him and his wife, and from this visit are going to come Bad Things.

   Vinnie is feeling the weight of his years and sins, and the burden of all the secrets he’s got locked in his head. A chance meeting with a reporter friend of Joey’s leads to the idea of a book to be published after his death. Not surprisingly, there are those who if they knew would think this very poor idea. Even less surprisingly, some of these find out. The FBI wants to hang a fresh New York murder on Vinny. the paisons just want to hang him up.

   Well, once again I demonstrate that I’m no slave to foolish consistency. Though this features basically the same cast of characters as the earlier book, I liked it. Somehow Shames had done a better job of making his criminals sympathetic in a believable fashion, or maybe I was in a different mood.

   He’s a good storyteller, and has a good ear for dialogue. He also does a good job of sketching in the Key West ambiance without a lot of purple prose and excess verbiage. The characters make the book, however, and though I’m still a little uncomfortable with some of the shadings, I liked them.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #15, September 1994.

Bibliographic Note:   #2 in the series of incidents in the life of Joey Goldman was Scavenger Reef (1994). He may have appeared in later books — Shames now has 17 books in his “Key West” series — but if so, I do not know about it.