Rome:Peter Leonard has written a very different sort of book than what I've been reading lately. It took me a chapter or two to get into it because it is very stark and abrupt. From the first word, the reader is thrown into the action. There is no time to build characters or explain what is going on - that comes eventually, but it is a bit of a shocking beginning. It's kind of like being tossed into cold water: it takes a minute to get your bearings. Once the shock wears off you find that the effect is carried through the book. The reader is an observer in a most intense, fast moving ride.
McCabe and Chip, two American exchange students, are about to become embroiled with a violent street gang, a beautiful Italian girl, and a flawed kidnapping plan.
Sharon Vanelli’s affair with Joey Palermo, a Mafia enforcer, is about to be discovered by her husband, Ray, a secret service agent.
Brilliantly plotted and shot through with wry humor, ALL HE SAW WAS THE GIRL sees these two narratives collide in the backstreets of Italy’s oldest city.
Sometimes trying to weave two, seemingly, unrelated stories together results in a total train wreck. Thankfully, Mr. Leonard has avoided that in All He Saw was the Girl. Instead the two stories combine smoothly without interrupting the flow of the story. Because of the writing style, it takes awhile to connect with the characters but it happens. And while it is happening the absurdity of the characters' actions keeps the reader very entertained.
Last word: stick with it. As I read chapter one I was wondering if I would make it through. By chapter two, I couldn't put it down.
Here's a Taste:
Sharon was thinking, who was this guy lived in a five-thousand-square-foot house – not that his taste was any good – on Lake St. Clair, had nothing but leisure time or so it seemed?
He called her four, five times a day, said, “How you doing?”
And Sharon would say, “Same as I was when you called fifteen minutes ago.”
“Baby, I miss you. Tell them you’re sick, we’ll go to the casino.” Or he’d be at the track or a Tigers day game, he’d say, “I gotta see you. Take the afternoon off, I’ll send a car.”
She’d been going out with him for three weeks and it was getting serious. They’d meet at noon, check into a hotel a couple times a week and spend two hours in bed, screwing and drinking champagne. It was something, best sex she’d ever had in her life. He did things to her nobody had ever done before. She’d say, where’d you learn that? And he’d say, you inspire me, beautiful. The only bad thing, he called her Sharona, or my Sharona. Everything else was great so she let it go.
They’d take his boat out on Lake St. Clair and she’d sunbathe topless. Something she’d never done in her life and never imagined herself doing. She felt invigorated, liberated. He always told her she looked good, complimented her outfit. Showered her with gifts, bought her clothes and jewelry. She felt like a teenager again. They’d meet and talk and touch each other and kiss. She was happy for the first time in years. She had to be careful. Ray, the next time he came home, might notice something and get suspicious.Why’re you so happy? she could hear him saying – like there was something wrong with it.
But this relationship with Joey also made her nervous. Things were happening too fast. She was falling for him and she barely knew him, and she was married.