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Always Say Goodbye [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Stuart M. Kaminsky
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

March 2007 Wheeler Hardcover
Four years ago Lew Fonesca's wife was struck and killed in a hit-and-run within sight of their apartment. He fled Chicago, driving mindlessly until his car gave up the ghost in Sarasota, FL. Working from a cheap office behind the Dairy Queen on Highway 301, he makes a threadbare living as a process server and savors his clinical depression like a fine wine.

Life's a sneaky mistress, though, and has a way of suckering you into caring. Lew's found that he's really good at helping people get out of bad situations. That he matters. And Lew's therapist, who alternately acts as his conscience and his sparring partner, tells him that unless he's willing to leave the planet, it's about time that he goes back to Chicago and closes the door to the past so that he can finally get on with the rest of his life. Lew hates to admit it, but he's beginning to see her point.

So Lew returns to his home town, to friends and family…and to a grief that threatens to engulf him. He's resolved to dig until he finds out who killed his wife. In doing so, he'll uncover both sweet and painful memories of his past. He'll also confront a murderer who'll not hesitate to kill again to make sure hidden secrets stay buried.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Publishers Weekly

In MWA Grand Master Kaminsky's psychologically layered fifth Lew Fonesca mystery (after 2005's Denial), the Sarasota, Fla., process server and occasional PI emerges from his clinical depression to start tracking down the hit-and-run driver who killed his wife, Catherine, in Chicago four years earlier. But moments after his tow-truck-driver brother-in-law, Franco, picks him up at Midway Airport, they realize a car is following them. Digging up the past proves to be dangerous work, as Lew finds himself caught between two warring assassins-for-hire who believe Catherine, a prosecutor, had compiled a file of evidence against them and that Lew might know of its existence. Kaminsky paves Lew's road from depression to acceptance of Catherine's death with sufficient bumps and frissons to keep readers hurtling along to the very end. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Kaminsky has a knack for creating oddball characters in rollicking plots. Lew Fonesca is one of the more recent additions to the Kaminsky stable, which includes old-time Hollywood sleuth Toby Peters, Moscow Inspector Rostnikov, and Chicago cop Abe Lieberman. A wreck of a man, Fonesca is perhaps Kaminsky's darkest character, a man still reeling from grief after his wife's death by a hit-and-run driver in Chicago four years previously. The earlier books in the Fonesca series showed him scraping by as a process server in Sarasota, clinging to his depression but sometimes coaxed into solving other people's problems. This time Lew's octogenarian therapist has coaxed him into returning to Chicago to find his wife's killer. This is good for Lew but bad for the plot, which turns implausible when Lew determines far too quickly who is responsible for his wife's death. Transplanting Lew to Chicago is like trying to transplant a palm tree--it looks good for a while but quickly loses color. Followers of the series will want to read this one, but it's definitely not one of the best. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This book is so dark you almost need antidepressive medicine to survive it. You'll find the darkness illuminated by occasional plot surprises, surprising confessions, and redeeming actions.

Process server and sometime problem solver Lou Fonseca pulls himself out of his deep depression over his wife's death to return to Chicago to find who killed her four years earlier. With the help of his family and former colleagues, Fonseca makes good progress as his steps are dogged by watchers. Bracketing that Chicago search in the book is a Florida experience with serving court papers that leads to an acquaintance with a sleazy character who needs a problem sorted out in the book's end.

If someone killed your spouse and disappeared from sight, what would you do? How would you feel? Those are just two of the compelling questions that will fill your mind as you read Always Say Goodbye. But what if you got your hands on the person? What then?

There are so many good things in this book; it's hard to disrespect it. But in places the plot takes huge leaps that seem largely disconnected from any prior hints. I found myself wondering what was going on when that happened. That broke the dark mood as I wondered what I had missed. It's a shame. To work, the story didn't need to pull large rabbits out of the hat.

Be sure you always leave your loved ones with a smile on their faces.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Any absence might become forever." Dec 24 2006
By E. Bukowsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When a hit-and-run driver kills Lewis Fonesca's beloved wife, Catherine, he flees to Sarasota, Florida to wallow in his misery. "He wanted each day to be a dark blanket that no one pulled back to let in the light." Lew has a bare bones existence in two nondescript rooms behind a Dairy Queen and ekes out a minimal living as a process server. However, in spite of his desire to isolate himself, Lew makes friends, seeks counseling, and even helps people with their personal problems. One day, he decides to visit Chicago to find out who ran Catherine down and why. He says goodbye to his buddies, Ames McKinney and Flo Zink, his girlfriend, Sally Porovsky, and his eighty-two year-old therapist, Ann Horowitz. Lew knows that a man must always say goodbye to those he cares about, because each time he sees them may be the last.

During his stay in Chicago, Lew reunites with his sister, Angela Massaccio, and her husband, Franco, a macho tow-truck driver who helps Lew hunt for Catherine's killer. Before long, two strangers tail them and someone takes a shot at them; later, Lew and Franco find the body of a murder victim and witness a shocking act of self-destruction. Along the way, they meet some unusual characters, including John Pappas, a wealthy agoraphobic with an aggressive mother and a weakness for Greek pastry, John's overly obedient sons, Dimi and Stavros, and Milt Holiger, who works for the Cook County State Attorney's Office. Milt's connections allow him to gather vital information that help Lew in his quest.

"Always Say Goodbye" has an offbeat and unpredictable plot, plenty of black humor, and a thought-provoking exploration of grief, depression, and family relationships. Kaminsky's unadorned writing style is remarkly effective, and the story is all the more touching because it is so understated. Lew is a refreshingly unconventional sleuth: a balding forty-two year old whose well-worn Chicago Cubs baseball cap attests to his love of the hapless team. He and the Cubs have a great deal in common: good luck rarely seems to follow them. However, Lew is not merely an ineffectual nebbish. He has many admirable traits, including keen intelligence, intuition, courage, and compassion. Most readers will root for him to throw off the black cloud of grief and guilt that has enveloped him for so long. Fortunately, with the closure that he acquires at the end of the story, along with the help of his patient and understanding therapist, there is a good chance that someday soon, Lew Fonesca will smile again.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all Kaminsky fans Dec 7 2006
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If award-winning mystery novelist Stuart M. Kaminsky chose a profession other than writing, there is no doubt that he would become a juggler. In that profession Kaminsky could take advantage of the talent he exhibits as an author, currently maintaining at least four ongoing mystery series with main characters as individual and unique as snowflakes. Kaminsky is the creator of Hollywood detective Toby Peters, Chicago police officer Abe Lieberman, Russian sleuth Inspector Rostnikov and Florida private investigator Lew Fonesca.

In total, Kaminsky lists 50 mystery novels in his bibliography and also has found time to publish five biographies, four textbooks and four movie screenplays. With this resume, it is not surprising that the former college professor was awarded the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Grandmaster Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

ALWAYS SAY GOODBYE is the fifth appearance of Lew Fonesca, formerly of Chicago but now a resident of Sarasota, Florida. Four years ago, Fonesca's wife was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in Chicago. She was a prosecutor in Cook County, and Fonesca was an investigator in that same office. In torment over her death, Fonesca fled Illinois and drove south until he decided to stop in Sarasota. He now works as a private investigator out of a cheap office near the Dairy Queen off Highway 301. Fonesca struggles to earn a living as a process server, occasionally helping others get out of difficult situations and fighting the ghosts of his former life.

As the novel opens, Fonesca decides that it is time to go back to Chicago to find the person responsible for his wife's death. He returns to the city and is met at Midway Airport by his brother-in-law Franco. It immediately becomes clear that Fonesca's return to the Windy City is more complicated than solving a hit-and-run. The car following them from the airport is a clear indication that this will be neither a routine nor a quickly resolved investigation. Fonesca's deceased wife Catherine may have left some files that could contain extremely incriminating material against certain people. Those unknown individuals are willing to kill to locate the damaging evidence. While seeking the person responsible for Catherine's death, Fonesca must navigate the treacherous field created by those hunting for the missing files.

Kaminsky knows Chicago. For years he was a professor at Northwestern University. His character Abe Lieberman works the streets of the city as a police officer. It is an interesting juxtaposition in ALWAYS SAY GOODBYE to observe Floridian Fonesca returning to his former home to work and walk the streets of a city where he once lived. Kaminsky devotees familiar with the Abe Lieberman series will enjoy Fonesca's visit to some different Chicago neighborhoods.

The joy of reading a Kaminsky mystery comes from meeting characters who are both complex and at the same time simple and straightforward. Kaminsky does not rely on gimmicks or unfathomable plot twists to hold readers' attention. Instead, he creates characters who readers will care about. At the end of ALWAYS SAY GOODBYE, Fonesca has undergone a metamorphosis that creates the potential for tantalizing adjustments in future episodes. Fans will await with anticipation for his next adventure.

--- Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The least pleasing in this series, but it doesn't stink... Feb. 6 2007
By William E. Adams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Please, please, if you are interested in this "mystery" series, read the five volumes IN ORDER. That way, you grieve with the hero, Lew Fonesca, who after being widowed runs away to Florida and tries to hide from life. You pick up along with him a friend here, an enemy there, a potential girlfriend, people to protect, a therapist, tiny cracks in his wall of depression, etc. The first four books are equally wonderful. In this one, he goes home to Chicago, finds the guy who ran over his wife, finds out why, and gets entangled in a couple of other bizarre plots as well. However, it just does not have the same magic as the prior entries. The supporting cast is not as interesting. We discover along with Lew that Sarasota has now become his home after four years, despite his occupying only two rooms in nearly abandoned building, one for an office, one for a bed. In Florida he does not even own a car or a pet, and he avoids human contact more than seeks it out. Yet that lonely life in near-poverty, when compared to his old one but without his wife, is clearly superior. I fear that those who read this one first will not be inspired to read the first four episodes. Better luck next time you turn to Lew for a book, Mr. Kaminsky. You are such a prolific and pleasing writer, all your fans can forgive one minor imperfect release.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Searching for catharsis Sept. 16 2010
By Linda Pagliuco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For a thriller, this book sure is talky. Lew leaves Florida on the advice of his therapist, heading Chicago to track down the murderer of his beloved wife Catherine. It's difficult to believe that a psychologist would make such a suggestion, especially knowing of the likelihood that more death will occur. Anyway, the action, such as it is, begins almost immediately, with someone following Lew's car as he's leaving the airport. From that point, the plot drags on. Lew is tipped off about the identity of the killer, but before he can corner him, he must wade through endless scenes involving threats from various street thugs, family scenes in which a murderous Greek grandmother bakes delicious treats, and Lew's own ruminations in which he decides he cannot let go of his depression because it will take him away from Catherine completely. Shades of Monk here. Perhaps fans of this series will embrace the opportunity to move forward with their hero, but be prepared for some long dull stretches before Lew can come to terms with his inner demons.

(Stuart Kaminsky died from hepatitis in October, 2009.)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An under appreciated master at his best Dec 19 2006
By W. Dobson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I had written a lengthy discourse on the fertile imagination of Stuart Kaminsky only to realize that I wouldn't read it and neither would you. So let me just say that Mr. Kaminsky is a genius who has flown under the radar of most readers for far too long. Everything about this book is a joy. It's funny, touching, depressing, exciting, exceptionally well paced and full of those sneaky little commentaries on life that make a Kaminsky book a Kaminsky book. Fans will be smiling from the first page, new readers soon after and everyone will have to pause for a moment contemplating humanity after closing the book for the last time.

(And a special note for true Kaminsky fans: his website says that TWO new Rostnikovs are on their way, the first, PEOPLE WHO WALK IN DARKNESS, is due in early 2008!)
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