A taste of Hell, with a side of wry humor

Do you like crime/action/mystery novels but want something a little different? Let Bob Moyer tell you about the second book in a growing series about a Felonious Monk.

Reviewed by Robert P. Moyer

BLOODY MARTINI. By William Kotzwinkle. Blackstone Publishing. 315 pages. $26.99.

Tommy Martini grew up in Coalville, Pennsylvania, where he starred on his high school football team, qualified for the Olympic wrestling team — and killed a man. Fortunately, his grandfather was the town’s Mafia don, who covered up the killing and shipped Tommy off to a monastery in Mexico, to undergo some anger management.

 In Felonious Monk (2021), the first book in this series, Tommy leaves the cloistered life to collect his inheritance from his uncle, a crooked priest. That adventure proves how poorly his anger management worked, and he left a trail of mayhem, murder and a bit of mirth behind him before he got back to the monastery.

Now back home with the Benedictines, he gets a phone message from his best friend from high school days. “Take care of Bridget,” the friend says, and then dies from a gunshot. Bridget was the friend’s wife, and the love of Tommy’s life. Tommy reluctantly returns to his hometown.

What he finds is a town of mines not running, a Mafia still running at full speed, and a crowd of people waiting to hurt or kill him — the murdered man’s brothers, the best friend’s father, and the D.A. who was prevented from prosecuting him. Tommy takes them out in a series of action scenes and car chases that cry out for a camera shot. The setting resembles Hell, with fire bellowing through the earth to swallow cars, and mine shafts so deep you can’t hear a body hit bottom.

Tommy maneuvers his way through all of it with all the ingenuity and wit William Kotzwinkle has to offer. Known for his wry touch, the author pops in a chuckle at surprising points. Escaping Russian mobsters up a shaky ladder, carrying a box of dynamite and handcuffed to a beautiful woman, Tommy remarks how he “… could still admire a woman’s legs. Darwin would understand.”

Once again, Tommy leaves a path of mayhem, and a bit of munificence for those who need it, behind him. By the time he gets back to the monastery, he has proved he is indeed a Bloody Martini.

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