Fans of the leaner, meaner novels of Elmore Leonard from 20 years ago have great reading waiting in every new Stella. – Publishers Weekly
Washington Stewart used to be James Singleton, a drug dealing murderer now in the witness protection program. As Singleton he was shot in the face by a mobster (Eddie's World, 2001) and now is playing ball with the FBI as Stewart. Instead of a life sentence, he's given a new identity and another chance. If he helps the Feds sting a Las Vegas heroin connection running through Missouri and North Dakota, he'll keep his new life, courtesy of Uncle Sam.
But Stewart has his own plans, made with an air force colonel looking to get rid of his wandering wife. The colonel stumbled upon bundles of smuggled Afghani heroin and he sets up a scheme of his own to cash in. But he needs Stewart's help to do it, who still has a score to settle with the man who disfigured him for life. No problem, Stewart thinks, but before he can dodge the FBI, he has to deal with one of the NYPD detectives who came after him when he was Singleton. There's too much money, too much crime, and too much murder for anything to work out quite like anyone thinks it will.
“Set in New York City in 1973, Stella’s vibrant seventh crime novel catches the cadence and daily grind of organized crime grunts … Stella tosses an eclectic cast of characters into the mix … admirers of Elmore Leonard and George V. Higgins will be happy.” – Publishers Weekly
It’s the summer of 1973. Disco is King and the New York mob is at the peak of its power. John Albano, an out-of-work construction worker with child support and rent payments he can’t keep up with, is driving for a local car service when his quick hands and honorable nature place him in the middle of a perfect storm of danger. He’s just trying to make ends meet with a weekend stint counting heads and collecting the take at illegal screenings of the recently banned porno film, Deep Throat, for Mafioso Eddie Vento. But a devious ex-wife, her more devious ex-husband, the wiseguys behind the film (including one obnoxious wannabe with a frenzied beef for Albano), the Fleetwood Eldorado used in the opening scene of the porno film and a host of cops (both good and bad—including the deranged one Albano punched out) snowball into an often humorous, sometimes violent, action-packed page turner loaded with the masterful dialogue that earned Charlie Stella six *starred* reviews and countless comparisons to such masters of the genre as George V. Higgins, Donald Westlake, Elmore Leonard and Mario Puzo over the course of his six contemporary crime novels.
"Stella has quickly become one of crime fiction's leading lights, and this latest effort will burnish that well-deserved reputation. A great book.” – Library Journal *Starred* Review
Some crimes cry for vengeance, like the one that washes Rachel Wilson up on a beach, her head bald, her body mutilated. It’s a cry that Agnes Lynn, a hooker gone straight and Rachel’s long-time friend, can’t ignore. Steely and resourceful, with a determination impervious to fear, Agnes aims to settle scores with pimps and porn kings—and unwittingly, blindly, sets herself in the path of the formidable Russian mob boss Viktor Timkin.
Stalked by the Mafiya, pursued by the police—not least, a maverick Russian-born detective whose broken English hides an intelligence as cold as any among his countrymen on the other side of the law—Agnes can only run. Until she gets herself red leather boots, lipstick, a boning knife, and a plan.
What she doesn’t plan on, though, are crooked cops, a Saudi weapons dealer, gangland assassins, a turf war, and redfella deviants. What she doesn’t plan on could get her killed.
“With his fifth entertaining entry in the gangster follies, Stella earns a place among the most readable writers in crime fiction." – Kirkus *Starred* Review
For three months now, ex-bookmaker Bobby G has been heading down the straight and narrow. He's got the girl – pretty, and willful, Lin Yao, a video-grapher with a black belt in karate – and he's bought the ring. He's also safely stashed away a tidy, slightly tainted retirement fund. Then his old boss, a captain with the Vignieri crime family, flips and rats on his Mafioso associates. And Bobby's past begins catching up with him.
"To get down to brass taxes," as the phrase-twisting enforcer Tommy Agro puts it, the family figures it's due, say, two percent of Bobby's take. Intelligent, combative, a bit of a smart-ass, and stubborn, Bobby resists persuasion, even when he's facing Agro's muscle, a former offensive lineman who bench-presses five hundred pounds. Soon, though, Lin Yao is facing an Irish goon freelancing for the Vignieris, and before you can say the Mott Street Shadows the wiseguys' shakedown is escalating as fast as Stella's rapid-fire dialogue into warfare with a Chinese gang in the Heart of Little Italy.
"Stella writes with intelligence and wit, infusing his stories with the reality of the streets and a sly sense of humor. He might just be the best crime writer you've never read."
– David Montgomery (Chicago Sun-Times)
Reese Waters is headstrong, principled, and a bit naive. The former bus driver and now ex-con merely wants to do the right thing by prison buddy Peter Rizzo. He just doesn’t expect the right thing to entail $50,000 in cash, a funeral, the mean-spirited schemes of Rizzo’s congenitally greedy ex-wife, confrontations with Mafia consigliere Jimmy Valentine, two hit men, a Nation of Islam splinter group, and the homicide investigation of two New York police detectives. Reese is barely a day out of Fishkill Penitentiary before his world is spinning crazily out of control because everybody’s after the money, which is all at once a divorce settlement, an unhonored debt, a ransom demand, a shakedown, a killer’s fee, and a mere fifty g’s. With dynamite dialogue, high-octane action, and hardboiled humor, what author Charlie Stella’s cheapskates will do for the money gets as wild as the ride of a runaway bus loose on Second Avenue.
"Stella's Goodfellas do their wild and crazy thing once more … the pace never slows, and you'll like tough, tenderhearted Charlie a lot." – Kirkus Reviews
With bravura, alternating brutality with humor and high-octane action with virtuoso tough-guy dialogue, Stella crafts his story of Charlie Pellecchia, whose unwitting entanglement with New York mobster Nicky Cuccia plops him in the path of the DEA, FBI, and Las Vegas police. Law enforcement may find Charlie awkwardly in its way, but elsewhere—in deluxe casino hotel suites, at deserted construction sites, on quiet residential streets—a bodybuilding punk looking to be made, a professional killer, a mob chief’s double-dealing accountant, and a pair of Vietnamese gangbangers are all trying to put Charlie permanently out of the way. All because he broke a wiseguy’s jaw.
Add to the mix hookers with felonious kinks, a cop deeply troubled by his wife’s infidelity, a ham-fisted redneck with vengeance on his mind and some bad faith between a Brooklyn crime family and the Russian mob. Things go down tough in Charlie’s opera.
"...Stella is a kind of obscene Ring Lardner, finding a lean, rancid poetry in his characters' vernacular, and rendering it with flawless precision and humor." – Washington Post Book World
Jimmy Mangino figures he's overdue. Already he's done two stretches in the joint. But he's back, and he's still a good earner for the family. You got a loser you need to lean on, Jimmy lends his strong arm, and he doesn't flinch at murder, not for the Vignieris. He also bench-presses four hundred pounds. Jimmy wants to be a made man. Alex Pavlik wants to take Jimmy down. Pavlik, the edgy Polish cop who tailed Eddie Senta in Charlie Stella's enthusiastically reviewed debut, Eddie's World, has been transferred to Organized Crime from Homicide, where his short temper, keen sense of justice, and too-ready prizefighter's fists have proved to be a volatile combination.
Tough-talking, taut, and craftily plotted, Stella's second novel takes Pavlik and his new partner into the shifty world of Jimmy Bench-Press when wannabe-mobster Larry Berra hires Mangino to collect on a bad loan to a sixty-three-year-old Italian barber with a Cuban girlfriend. Jimmy's got his fingers in any number of illegal pies, from extortion to murder, drugs and porn. Enough to get a man made, maybe.
Fresh, fast and darkly-funny. A sure-footed debut from a writer with a spare, no-nonsense prose style who can make you like characters you think you shouldn't. – Kirkus *Starred* Review
Eddie Senta has a problem, in this hard-boiled, fast-paced novel of crime. His attractive second wife, a highly successful marketing research executive who hears her biological clock loudly ticking, wants a baby. She also wants Eddie to clean up his act. Their marriage is going bad.
Nothing's going great for Eddie, in fact. His stints as a firecracker word processor in the legitimate business world dull him, and the kick he once got running for the mob has turned into mere efficiency. Maybe it's a midlife crisis, like his wife's unsympathetic therapist says. Uneasy with the feeling that his world is daily shrinking, Eddie seizes the opportunity, when it presents itself, to make an easy score and at the same time to help out a friend. While Eddie by no means needs the five grand he'll make on the deal, he longs for the thrill--and the reinvigoration of his stale fortyish self--that a quick, uncomplicated robbery might bring.