Tuesday, March 06, 2012
12. All I Can Get by William Ard
While this turned out to be an enjoyable read, the cover does not reflect the interior of the book at all well. Yes, that scene takes place and yes there is a girl who plays for fun and yes I guess the protagonist, Lou Largo P.I. does play for keeps. But this book is not some intense, torrid, hard-boiled tale of sexual conflict. The tone is the biggest thing not well-represented by the cover. It's actually kind of light and humorous, closer to Boston Blackie than Philip Marlow. And the story is actually about a wealthy newspaper tycoon who invests in a morning paper in a small city across the bay from Tampa in an attempt to take over the market and the resistance he and his allies face from the mob (well mobs, as both the mafia and the Cubans are fighting over the turf).
There is another story wrapping around the newspaper narrative. At the beginning of the book, the newspaper tycoon hires Lou Largo to investigate a beautiful, young woman with whom he just fell in love and has proposed to marry after meeting her hours earlier (this is where the light tone starts off). Of course, Lou, after discovering that she is a total party girl, gets with her. Though it is "a Lou Largo novel", Lou leaves the story for the next half of the book, where we follow the tycoon as he goes to Tampa to sell the newspaper and take his star editor back with him to NYC. He is also planning on marrying his fiancé as well, but gets caught up in the mob war and changes his mind on selling the paper. The story then moves into main gear and we get lots of good (actually fairly hard-boiled) gang war stuff, beatings, stand-offs, gunfights, corrupt cops and so on.
It really reminded me a lot of "The Fools in Town Are on our Side", though a bit neater in its wrap-up and a bit lighter in its overall tone. It was kind of a fun book, but just not as heavy as what I was expecting. Now I shall go and see if Lou Largo actually had a series.