Friday, July 24, 2009

Forgotten Books: CHARLIE OPERA -- Charlie Stella

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.

10 comments:

Keith Rawson said...

I LOVE this novel! It's an amazing piece of writing and the only reason why it is "forgotten" is that Pegasus publishing allowed it to go out of print in the U.S., and thank god Mr. Stella's next novel will be published by Stark House where at least it will remain in print and available to Mr. Stella's many fans for years to come.
(Well, at least I hope so.)

George said...

Stark House is going to publish Charlie Stella's JOHNNY PORNO in Spring 2010. I, for one, will be ordering it.

Bill Crider said...

And I for two.

Jake Murdock said...

Charlie Stella novels never have time to slow down. And you have to love the touch of humor he throws in his work. Why he (and his novels) aren't more widely known? Is a mystery to me....

Plus, Charlie is a big Buffalo Bills fan. And that is like icing on the cake.

Gerard Saylor said...

Huh. I just checked out Eddie's World to take on vacation. I emailed Stark House a few days ago to ask about that pub date, the answering email said "We're set on next Spring, but the date isn't firm yet."

Scott Parker said...

I know the name "Charlie Stella" but I've never read anything. Guess this is a good place to start.

Charlieopera said...

You guys are all more than kind.

We're in Wilmington, North Carolina this weekend for the Cape Fear Blues Festival (where I get to play in a 37 year reunion Sunday--can't wait).

This North Carolina sun is no joke ... hotter than ... well, yous know.

I'm super excited about Stark House taking on Johnny Porno and it's guys like Ed Gormann and Bill that keep me around (seriously). We were staring at the crime writing graveyard, it seemed. All we kept hearing is that mob fiction is dead. It was good to find a publisher resistant to the resitance (if that makes sense).

Thanks again, all a'yous, very, very much.

I don't know how many fans I actually have (not all that many we suspect) but we're sure grateful for and to them.

All best to yous and thanks again.

Drums Sunday ... so psyched.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Anytime the author responds the book goes to the top of my pile.

Bill Crider said...

That's good to know.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

That guy on Sullivan ever did get all the plates going, did he? Not the times I saw him.