7,000 CLAMS

Lee Irby, Author . Doubleday $23.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-385-51189-6

Set during the Roaring '20, Irby's frenzied debut chases a good-natured criminal and a baseball icon up and down the eastern seaboard. Bootlegger Frank Hearne faces trouble in Asbury Park, N.J.: an old colleague turned legit (on the face of it, anyway) for the Prohibition Bureau makes off with a pricey cache of smuggled Canadian scotch. Desperate, Frank steals a tattered $7,000 IOU penned by the one and only Babe Ruth and sets off with voluptuous, gun-toting model/lounge singer Ginger DeMore to spring training in St. Petersburg, Fla., to cash in. Frank and Ginger, both on everyone's most-wanted list, are tailed by a gang of mobsters and also by Irene Howard, an obsessed, lovesick college student Frank spent the summer romancing. While Ginger's flirtations fail to keep the Mafioso off her tail, beady-eyed jewel thief Ellis Wax bamboozles his way into Irene's already unstable life and eventually worms his way into Frank's business as well. Babe's IOU is actually a gambling debt owed to a underworld boss, and before it makes front-page news, everyone from crooked cops to rabid henchmen rush to Derby Lanes dog track to chase down the Bambino. A botched scheme to kidnap Irene pits Frank against Ellis as bullets fly and female hearts flutter. Though overzealous in scope, Irby's writing is brisk and the distinctive characterizations are vivid enough to keep readers engrossed. Agent, Nat Sobel. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 01/01/2005
Open Ebook - 236 pages - 978-0-385-51332-6
Paperback - 355 pages - 978-0-7679-1754-4
Hardcover - 509 pages - 978-0-7862-7221-1
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