The Getbacks of Mother Superior

Dennis Lehman, Author Arbor House Publishing $17.95 (410p) ISBN 978-0-87795-888-8
""Getback'' is prison slang for revenge, and this funny first novel contains a long string of them, culminating in a spectacular, climactic finale. Narrator ``Flat Store'' (prison ``handle'' of Humbert James Barker) tells how convicted bankrobber Conroy (``Mother Superior'') transforms the lives of the misfits and losers in cell 3-J-5, McNeil Island Penitentiary, Puget Sound, Wash. Mother sets up a scheme to develop the ``outside'' skills of his eight ``cellies'' and make them rich through illegal horse-racing bets. Along the way, he pulls off a series of inside getbacks against a corrupt warden and his murdering lieutenant. Eventually, Mother gets a new trial, his cellies are released, and outside getbacks snag a banker, a judge, an assistant U.S. Attorney, even a Senator. If the narrative is at times overly simplisticMother is almost too handsome, good-natured and smart to be trueits sentimentality is of a higher order and is rousingly entertaining. Lehman (himself serving time for bank robbery) conveys the gritty speech and nasty details of life ``inside'' with precision. (August 24)
Reviewed on: 08/04/1987
Release date: 08/01/1987
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