Rome: 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.Detroit: 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 humour, All He Saw Was the Girl takes place as these two narratives converge in the backstreets of Italy's oldest city. A thrilling ride, it once again displays Peter Leonard's genius for exploring the wrong turns that life can take.Peter Leonard's growing fan base includes greats such as Carl Hiaasen ('great storytelling') and Michael Connelly ('clever plotting and blood and guts characters'), and publications as diverse as Uncut ('sensational'), the Daily Mirror ('stunning') and the Big Issue ('brilliantly snappy').
Fast paced in Rome: a stolen taxi, a stay at Rabibbia – one of Italy’s toughest prisons, a small-time mobster who looks like Fabio, and two Loyola students studying (and drinking) abroad. The students’ names indicate their life stations. Charles Tallenger III is the son of a U.S. senator and goes by “Chip”. McCabe is just McCabe; tough kid from Detroit, but generally a straightforward student who stops bullying, protects his friends, and catches purse thieves. Then, circumstances cause him to turn small-time mobster himself…and he’s good at it! Leonard alternates between that story line, and then adds another storyline in Detroit with a Secret Service agent, his unhappy wife, and an American mob boss.
The timeline moves smoothly between the American and Italian action. I loved the glimpses of Italy, and when is a story about the mob boring or unpopular? Joey, though, is one unpopular character for me; way too crude – no redeeming qualities. I liked McCabe, Angela, Ray, and Sharon. The dialogue and action is shotgun quick. There’s no down time.
Three and a Half Stars
*Reviewed by Colleen*
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