Always Say Goodbye Hardcover – Large Print, Mar 2007
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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.
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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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
(Stuart Kaminsky died from hepatitis in October, 2009.)
(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!)