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Vengeance: A Lew Fonesca Mystery [Mass Market Paperback]

Stuart M. Kaminsky
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 15 2000 Lew Fonesca Novels (Book 1)
Three years ago Lew Fonseca quit his job as a process server with the State Attourney's Office in Cook County, Illinois, and drove his rattling Toyota south to escape the memories of his beloved late wife. Headed for Key West, the Toyota broke down in a Dairy Queen parking lot in Sarasota, Florida. Buoyed by the friendship of a few trustworthy souls, Lew settled there, making ends meet by doing some investigative work for local attourneys.

Now, Lew is hired by Carl Sebastian, one of Lew's lawyer's clients, to find his missing wife. Following up on a few leads, Lew finds himself being trailed by a mysterious burly man, and saddled with another missing person case -- this time a runaway teen. With the help of some friends, Lew seems to be getting closer and closer to Melanie -- but will he find her before the unthinkable happens?

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From Publishers Weekly

The versatile and prolific Kaminsky introduces his fifth series hero, Lew Fonesca, in this outstanding mystery. Fonesca is a middle-aged, widowed process server, a transplanted Chicagoan who has made a new home in Sarasota, Fla. He joins a distinguished and varied stable of his Edgar Award-winning creator's other protagonists: a Russian policeman (Porfiry Rostnikov); a Chicago police detective (Abe Lieberman); a private detective to the stars (Toby Peters); and, of course, Jim Rockford. Fonesca is a friendly, unassuming, slightly depressed fellow who makes a meager salary working for several Sarasota lawyers. Occasionally he uses the investigative skills he developed while employed by the state attorney's office in Chicago to do a little ad hoc sleuthing. In his debut, his skills and fortitude get stretched to the limit as he tries to locate two missing persons: a teenage girl whose sexually abusive and violent father has lured her away from her poverty-stricken mother, and a woman who has run away from her wealthy husband. As always, Kaminsky's sense of place is faultless, and he skillfully captures a parade of lively, credible characters, including psychiatrists, truck drivers, pimps, teenagers and social workers. With an early hook, he grabs readers and takes them on a memorably tumultuous ride of violent dips and turns, careening from Sarasota's most squalid shacks to its richest condos. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Lew Fonseca is a middle-aged, balding, classic-movie lover, and morose freelance process server in Sarasota, FL. His office is above a Dairy Queen, and he lives a rather solitary life after the death of his wife in a winter auto accident back in Chicago. In addition to his process serving duties, he also dabbles in finding missing persons, and as his luck would have it, two cases fall into his lap on the same day. The first comes from the mother of a teenage girl who is worried that her daughter has become a prostitute under the tender care of her louse of a father. The second one deals with a husband's desperate search to find his wife. With the help of some rather colorful secondary characters, Fonseca soon finds out that there is a tenuous link between the two seemingly disparate cases. Kaminsky has been adept at creating realistic literary characters in his previous mysteries, and if Vengeance is any indication, we'll be hoping to see a lot more of mopey Lew and his merry band of misfits. Scott Brick brings life to these characters without resorting to phony voices or unbelievable accents. All in all, this will be a solid addition to public library collections. Joseph L. Carlson, Lompoc P.L., CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars After Rosnikov, a disappointment June 17 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After having gone through almost every Rostnikov mystery with great joy, I was eagerly anticipating Kaminsky's new main protaganist, Lew Fonesca. But unfortunately I was disappointed. The characters just weren't that interesting to me, particularly Fonesca. I guess it's because I could identify more with Rostnikov - a sincere guy trying to do the best for himself, his family, and his fellow man. Fonesca, for whatever reason, seems aimless. Rostnikov was also grappling with "the system" whereas Fonesca had essentially dropped out. These observations are applicable to most of the characters in both stories.
The plot, though interesting and entertaining, was dominated by the personalities. And the intricacies and resolution of the plot came too late to have a major effect on how I responded to the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed reading this book... May 19 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is my first book by Stuart M. Kaminsky, I enjoyed his work a lot, I highly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lew Fonesca is a quirky everyman... July 21 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
and it is difficult not to like him.
I'm a fan of Kaminsky's Abe Lieberman series, but I like Lew even better. Picture someone in midlife who drifts to Florida when his wife dies; and puts together a very simplistic lifestyle in one of Florida's wealthiest communities. You get a great look at Sarasota from the back of a Dairy Queen! You get a hero with a real sense of humor and a knack with people who is masquerading as a process server. You get a strong set of supporting characters, particularly in Flo, Sally, Ames and the fascinating Harvey, a computer research maven and Dr. Ann Horowitz, Lew's elderly psychiatrist.
In "Vengeance", the first time we get together with Lew (a Stanley Tucci lookalike), Kaminsky has woven together two different mysteries, one of which is exceedingly difficult to figure out. The characters are more carefully drawn and the romance is soft and believable. Fonesca is someone could very probably have met in your own lifetime, and his unassuming habits and thoughts are in sharp contrast to his quick wit and humor... A tidbit...
"I'm gay, Mr. Fonesca. I told you." "Why do they call it gay? Most of the homosexuals I've known are smiling on the outside and depressed on the inside", I said. "Like you?" "There is a distinct similarity", I said, sinking back into the chair.
A great and breezy read; makes you want Kaminsky to keep returning to Lew in the future!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lew Fonesca is a quirky everyman... July 21 2001
By L. Quido - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
and it is difficult not to like him.
I'm a fan of Kaminsky's Abe Lieberman series, but I like Lew even better. Picture someone in midlife who drifts to Florida when his wife dies; and puts together a very simplistic lifestyle in one of Florida's wealthiest communities. You get a great look at Sarasota from the back of a Dairy Queen! You get a hero with a real sense of humor and a knack with people who is masquerading as a process server. You get a strong set of supporting characters, particularly in Flo, Sally, Ames and the fascinating Harvey, a computer research maven and Dr. Ann Horowitz, Lew's elderly psychiatrist.
In "Vengeance", the first time we get together with Lew (a Stanley Tucci lookalike), Kaminsky has woven together two different mysteries, one of which is exceedingly difficult to figure out. The characters are more carefully drawn and the romance is soft and believable. Fonesca is someone could very probably have met in your own lifetime, and his unassuming habits and thoughts are in sharp contrast to his quick wit and humor... A tidbit...
"I'm gay, Mr. Fonesca. I told you." "Why do they call it gay? Most of the homosexuals I've known are smiling on the outside and depressed on the inside", I said. "Like you?" "There is a distinct similarity", I said, sinking back into the chair.
A great and breezy read; makes you want Kaminsky to keep returning to Lew in the future!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poor Editing of a Mystery with Appealing New Characters! Feb. 13 2001
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mysteries are seldom strong in characterization. Usually, the mechanics of the plot keep the author more than busy. Vengeance succeeds very well at both levels. This first entry into what could become a series holds great promise. Surprisingly, though, it is marred by more errors that should have been caught than any other novel I have read in years. I have accordinlgy graded down what otherwise would have been a rave review. Authors usually get a chance to catch errors in galley stage, so the profesional editors should probably not get all the blame here.
Lew Fonseca has integrity and persistence going for him, but little else. No one is going to mistake him for Nick Charles, Sam Spade, or Mike Hammer. He is licensed as a process server, and gets occasional jobs from attorneys to find people. Like a terrier, he gets to the bottom of where the missing people are. He is lucky to get paid $50 a day. He lives in his office. He gets leads for jobs at the Dairy Queen, where he eats most of his meals. He gets around by walking or riding a bike . . . unless he can charge a rental car to a client. He's depressed and has a hard time taking danger seriously. Perhaps he even has an unconscious death wish. He lost his wife three years before, and hasn't recovered yet. In this mystery, he is asked to find a runaway teenaged girl who is probably being sexually abused by her father. Separately, a local businessman asks him to find his missing wife. Normally, Lew has no work. Now he has too much. He puts his attention mostly on the runaway, and still can't keep up. And who is that mysterious man who's following him?
Lew Fonseca's buddies are as vivid in their uniqueness and appeal as he is. You'll enjoy thinking about them as examples of how the purpose of your life is more important than the resources you have. The book has a strong moral tone, without being preachy, that saves the book from being disgusting as various extreme forms of human depravity are exposed.
The mystery was hard for me to solve. Maybe you'll get it sooner than I did, but I was puzzled up until the last few pages. That made the book much more enjoyable for me.
A good lesson from this book is to consciously avoid judging people by their appearances and occupations. Everyone is different from what they seem. Try getting acquainted with someone you would normally not spend time with, and see how many of your assumptions about that person turn out to be wrong. That's a good way to overcome the Ugly Duckling stall!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Appealing New Character Sept. 9 2000
By Lowell E. Toreson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The author has done a great job of developing the main character. I hope he'll continue with more Lew Fonesca mysteries! Let's hope, though, that he finds a different publisher. I cannot remember reading a more poorly edited book. The errors were so numerous they became a major distraction from a well-crafted story.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific tale Aug. 28 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Three years six months and five days ago, Lew Fonesca's beloved spouse died when some unknown driver sideswiped her car, sending her crashing into a wall. Distraught, Lew immediately left Chicago to escape the memories. When his vehicle broke down in Sarasota, Florida, Lew decided to stay. He soon began working for a couple of attorneys, discreetly handling their investigative needs even though he has no license to practice professional sleuthing.
Real estate giant Carl Sebastian hires Lew's services to find his missing wife Melanie. Carl wants to only talk to her to see if he can persuade her to return home. However, the simple case turns complex when someone tails Lew and his clues seem to lead him to taking backwards steps. At the same time, Lew cannot refuse Beryl Tree's retainer to find her missing teen in danger from an abusive father and a nasty individual who bought the girl.
Perhaps it is time to declare award winning Stuart Kaminsky as the reigning monarch of excellent detective series with such notables as Inspector Rostnikov, Toby Peters, and Abe Lieberman. His newest player Lew Fonesca may be the best of the lot. Lovable Lew is still mourning his loss while counting every second away from his beloved. Yet, he cannot stop himself from helping the oppressed. VENGEANCE consists of two obvious story lines that Mr. Kaminsky's writing abilities turn into excellent tales along with Lew, a feat that makes this novel worth reading.

Harriet Klausner
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very poorly edited Nov. 2 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
After noticing that five people were sitting in four chairs in the high school office, I started looking for similar inconsistentcies. Are there editors or at least proofreaders at publishing companies these days? All the characters seemed to speak in the same voice and the old guy who's his friend seems way too much like the crazy old guy who lives in the swamp in Carl Hiasen's books. Get Toby Peters back to work.
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