’I never meant to be a private eye. The whole thing, in fact, was my accountant’s idea. A tax dodge.’
A preposterous idea; write off the work he was having done to his new house (wine cellar, music room, hot tub) as a new office for his new business, get a licence, get a gun, get a reputation as a P.I. who never solves a case, do nothing for a couple of years and save tens of thousands of dollars.
And for two and a half years it has worked perfectly until one day Pete Amsterdam (P.I. that is) has a long soak in the hot tub interrupted by an archetypal 'blonde with a problem'.
She is looking for a missing man called Kenny Lukens. So far so like every detective novel you've ever read. Except 'she' is in fact a 'he' in spectacular drag, and 'he' is Kenny Lukens. And Kenny, who only ever wanted to sail around the world, has sailed into a lot of trouble with entirely the wrong sort of people and needs Pete to help him out.
Pete Amsterdam is going to have to find his licence, oil his gun and finally become a P.I. But first he'll need to get dressed. 'Very cool, very hip, very funny and very probably true' Weekend Telegraph
'Sunny screwball comedy' Playboy
'Funny, well written and immaculately plotted' The Times
First British Edition Orion (1999)
Welcome to Paradise Big Al Marracotta, five foot not very much, heavy on the chutzpah, head of New York's Fulton Fish Market and low-level mafioso, is on his way to Key West for a little rest and relaxation. Little does he know that he's angered some people back in New York; people who think that a vacation might be the best time to exact revenge.
Meanwhile Alan 'Big Al' Tuschman, six foot and then some, tired and a little doubting, high school football star turned furniture salesman, has won his store's seasonal contest for the most dinette sets sold and is taking his prize: a free trip to Key West.
Both men have taken their pet dogs, both men are driving to Florida. Only one of them has a girlfriend, only one of them is the target for two of the Mob's most ruthless hitmen. The problem is, the girlfriend thinks she's got the wrong man, and the hitman don't realise they've made the same mistake.
The stage is set for a hilarious novel of mistaken identity, tropical crime, misplaced love and decidedly past-its-best seafood. Praise For Laurence Shames
'Critics wanting to flatter have compared him to the great crime absurdist Carl Hiaasen. Reasonably enough, but on this showing he's not only treading on the master's heels; in plot, invention and sheer vigour he's overtaken him' Literary Review
'...one of the most entertaining writers around.' GQ
'Intensely likeable, neatly assembled comedy with the seediest of settings and some of the best jokes currently in print. An absolute charmer; don't miss.' Literary Review
'Laurence Shames serves up the kind of one-liners Eddie Murphy would sell his soul for...' Liverpool Daily Post
'...a cool, funny and thoroughly entertaining read' Glasgow Herald
'Full of on the nail dialogue, funny and believable.' Crime Time
'Funny, well written and immaculately plotted, it's a book read in a single sitting' The Times Metro Supplement
First British Edition Orion (1998)
Mangrove Squeeze Suki Sperakis didn't come to Key West to sell advertising space for the local newspaper, but until something better comes along at least it's warm and funky and her dreams have room to breathe.
Aaron Katz came to Key West to escape Wall Street and a bad marriage. At one time he and his ex-wife talked about leaving it all behind and opening a little guest house - now the dream is his alone. So Aaron has brought along his aging father, bought a rundown wreck and Begun to rebuild.
The Russians came to Key West for the opportunity. Blue jeans! Gold chains! Harley Davidsons! And a beautiful warm spot close to the richest source of criminal income they could imagine.
When Suki decides to spice up her job with a little investigative reporting, the Russians decide that there are too many nosy Americans asking too many questions ..
Mangrove Squeeze combines the laugh-out-loud wit that recalls the best of Carl Hiassen; the quirky dialogue and tough-mindedness of Elmore Leonard; and the solidly evocative settings that have already gained Laurence Shames a cult following in the US.
Now prepare to shake (with laughter) and read in one sitting.
First British Edition Orion (1997)
Virgin Heat See Review by
See Review by
For ten years now Angelina Amaro has kept a secret so deep, so personal, that she couldn't share it with anyone. She is in love. In love with Sal Martucci, the man who betrayed her father, Mafia Capo Paul Amaro, and had him sent to prison. All these years she has pined for Sal, knowing that the intense - though chaste - love they shared would someday bring him back to her.
But Sal is now Ziggy Max, living with a new name and a new face, dodging cameras and cops, tending bar and running scams in Florida's Key West. He hasn't thought about Angelina for years (she never even put out, after all) - but he's sure thought about her father: a man who wants nothing more than to see Ziggy dead. If only he could find him.
And then fate plays its hand. Uncle Louie comes back from his Florida vacation, and at the party to celebrate Paul Amaro's release from jail plays his holiday video. And on that video Angelina sees, in glorious close-up, the hands of Sal Martucci mixing a cocktail. The very same hands that took her (some of the way) to ecstasy. And so she catches the next plane South. Leaving Paul Amaro to wonder where she has gone and, eventually, to put two and two together...
Virgin Heat is a tale of love, the mob, revenge, redemption and some minor cross dressing. If you haven't discovered Laurence Shames yet, don't worry. There was a first time for everyone...
'Virgin Heat is funny and sincere, rich in smart dialogue and memorable characters' Morning Star
'Very cool, very hip and very probably true' Weekend Telegraph
'Superior entertainment' New York Times
'Expertly blends fast-paced action with colourful dialogue and a tangible sense of place' Chicago Tribune
'Sharp and ....... characters that will have you hooked on the whole ride' Washington Post
'A delight from page one' Miami Herald
'Howlingly funny, savvy' James W. Hall
'Tough, blunt, remarkably tender' Linda Barnes
About The Author Laurence Shames splits his time between Florida, California and New York. A native New Yorker he was a reporter and wrote a non-fiction best-seller on the Mafia called Boss of Bosses. He is also the author of five Key West comic thrillers. He won the CWA Last Laugh Dagger Award for the funniest crime novel of 1995 with Sunburn. After living in New York for twenty years he moved to Key West in Florida in 1990. He looks like Al Pacino in his author photograph but feels more like Woody Alien.
Bibliography N.B. dates and publishers in dark red indicate British First Editions. Dates and publishers in black indicate recent reprints.