Authored by Jeffrey S. Stephens, FOOL’S ERRAND digs deep into a father/son relationship that is both toxic and glorious. A mystery within a mystery, the novel plumbs the depths of filial ties while setting up a real-live treasure hunt. Set in New York City, Las Vegas, and La Cote d’Azur, FOOL’S ERRAND tracks the adventures of a straight-laced account executive who also just happens to be the son of Blackie, a charming rogue and mob-connected bookie.
Even if a bit dull, life has become a relatively predictable series of events for Blackie’s college-educated reliable son. Until, that is, he finds out that Blackie, who died six years earlier, left him a legacy hidden in a small box of memorabilia and a cryptic note which might lead to the pot of stolen gold at the end of the rainbow. And so begins his journey, a trip which takes him into his father’s past and hooks him up with some of his father’s closest friends and frenemies, men he hasn’t seen since he was a kid. Unfortunately, the note also draws the attention of some of his father’s mob buddies and relatives who followed in his crooked footsteps. Suddenly, junior may find a target on his back. Happily, there’s a love interest to keep the bouillabaisse boiling.
Sopranos, move over. Stephens has done an excellent job of authentically breathing life into Blackie’s New York born-and-bred Italian family and the East Coast mob scene as he taps into the violent – but sometimes impulsive and even ridiculous – activities of a colorful but dangerous breed. His dialog is authentic enough to scare even Eliot Ness.
From his father’s best friend Benny, who has retired to Las Vegas with his Jewish wife, to his father’s other close secret friend, the urbane, stylish Frenchman, Gilles de la Houssay, Stephens creates strong individual characters to keep our treasure hunter hopping. From metropolitan New York to neonized Las Vegas to serenely sophisticated Cap d’Antibes, Stephen’s worlds meet and outshine each other. Even though FOOL’S ERRAND is primarily a cleverly-plotted mystery, Stephens never loses sight of the personalities he’s creating. Stephens continues to mature as an author; and he keeps his plots intriguing and his characters involving. FOOL’S ERRAND will easily prove to be a fascinating COVID read in an era when books have become our closest friends.
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