Irby, Lee

7,000 Clams: A Novel
7,000 Clams (2005)
From Publishers Weekly
Set during the Roaring '20, Irby's frenzied debut chases a good-natured criminal and a baseball icon up and down the eastern seaboard. Bootlegger Frank Hearne faces trouble in Asbury Park, N.J.: an old colleague turned legit (on the face of it, anyway) for the Prohibition Bureau makes off with a pricey cache of smuggled Canadian scotch. Desperate, Frank steals a tattered $7,000 IOU penned by the one and only Babe Ruth and sets off with voluptuous, gun-toting model/lounge singer Ginger DeMore to spring training in St. Petersburg, Fla., to cash in. Frank and Ginger, both on everyone's most-wanted list, are tailed by a gang of mobsters and also by Irene Howard, an obsessed, lovesick college student Frank spent the summer romancing. While Ginger's flirtations fail to keep the Mafioso off her tail, beady-eyed jewel thief Ellis Wax bamboozles his way into Irene's already unstable life and eventually worms his way into Frank's business as well. Babe's IOU is actually a gambling debt owed to a underworld boss, and before it makes front-page news, everyone from crooked cops to rabid henchmen rush to Derby Lanes dog track to chase down the Bambino. A botched scheme to kidnap Irene pits Frank against Ellis as bullets fly and female hearts flutter. Though overzealous in scope, Irby's writing is brisk and the distinctive characterizations are vivid enough to keep readers engrossed.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
The Up and Up: A Novel
The Up and Up (2006)
From Publishers Weekly
Former bootlegger Frank Hearn is just trying to make an honest buck in 1920s Miami when he falls down a rabbit hole of misfortune in Irby's captivating follow-up to 7,000 Clams (2005). Desperate to pay back a loan and prove himself worthy to the father of his well-heeled fiancée, Irene Howard, Frank joins his opportunist real-estate partner in a fixed jai alai bet. When the jai alai club's mobster owner finds out and sends his goons after them, Frank escapes only to be tossed in jail and robbed of his winnings by corrupt cops. His secretary bails him out the next morning, and Irene surprises him as he's clad only in towel and eye patch—just as the dishy secretary walks in with breakfast. Before Hearn has the chance to explain, he's charged with his not-so-lucky partner's murder. Irene, harboring a tiny shred of faith in her fiancé, pairs up with Horace Dyer, an honest Fed, to try to save Hearn. Ratcheting tension, smoothly incorporated flapper lingo, rich period details and likable characters should help win new fans for this humorous crime series. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

Lee Irby

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