How could a book from 2003 be forgotten, especially one this good? Don't ask me. I can't figure out why Charlie Stella's not a big name on the bestseller list. This is the second book of his I've read. I liked Eddie's World a lot (click here for the review), but Charlie Opera is even better.
Charlie's last name is really Pellecchia, but he's fond of opera. He's retired from his window-washing business, and he and his wife are in Las Vegas on a trip that Charlie hopes will help them work out their problems. Instead, and in short order, his wife leaves him and he's mugged. Things only get worse from there, as he's pursued by Mafia hitmen, Asian gang hitmen, and the cops. That's not all. Charlie's falling for a woman, the woman's roomie is being chased down by her abusive ex-husband, the feds are working on a big drug bust, the Las Vegas cops are trying to keep the lid on all the violence, and more. A lot more.
There's so much going on in the book, in fact, that I was reminded of that guy on the old Ed Sullivan show, the one who spun all those plates and balanced them on poles. Stella's dealing with a lot of plates here, but he keeps them all spinning until he's ready to take them down, which he does, depositing them all in a neat stack at the end. It's an amazing trick, and it's fun to see it all worked out.
Stella writes about crime, criminals, cops, feds, ordinary guys, and opera with authority and never hits a false note. And it's funny, too. If you've missed his books, you're missing a good time.