A cranky fat woman and her hunky partner in the New Jersey Bureau of Parole's ""Jump Squad"" (those who track down cons who ""jump"" parole) are an unlikely pair nonetheless ripe for comic plotting as Bruno proved in their first well-received outing, Devil's Food (1997). Fans of Loretta Kovacs and Frank Marvelli may be disappointed in the follow-up, though nifty plot twists and Bruno's clutch of kinky bit players still make it worth the read. The duo is off to coffee-rich Seattle to reel in Frankie's brother-in-law, Sammy, a parole violator who's working as a hit man, and the formidable Loretta grows nearly homicidal while she tries to kick caffeine. What almost saves this Dilbert-esque conceit is the crime-novel set-up. Sammy's target is a federal witness against loathsome mobster Taffy Demaggio; slender, blonde, diet pill-popping FBI agent Veronica Springer wants the hit to happen so Taffy will flip on bigger fish. Frank calls in a debt from another FBI agent to find a secret witness-stashing compound in Puget Sound, and the pair spring the hit man, avoid the feebs and get tangled with Sammy and Taffy in ways the reader won't see coming. The resolution works, and budding romance points to new ground for the series ahead. The coffee gimmick grows quickly tiresome, and some of the humor falls flat, but there's enough good writing to justify hope for an improved third caper. (Aug.) FYI: Devil's Food will be released by Forge as a mass market paperback in July.
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998 Release date: 06/01/1998
Mass Market Paperbound - 254 pages - 978-0-8125-4166-3