Standiford, Les

John Deal
Done Deal Done Deal (1993)
From Library Journal
This novel, by the author of Spill ( LJ 5/15/91), will have readers on the edge of their seats. The setting is Miami. Our hero is Jack Deal, just trying to make a go of life. Several attempts to harm Deal have been made, without his knowing why. The latest attempt mistakenly sends his wife off a bridge into the Intracoastal Waterway. The car is found, but her body is not. Deal doesn't know who his enemies are, what they want, or why. We know they want his small building site, located in an area sewn up by the amoral Raoul Alacazar. The plot involves expansion team baseball, new stadiums, and, of course, big money. How Deal figures it out, exacts vengeance, and rescues the fair maiden make for a smashing good novel. Well recommended for public libraries.
- Dawn L. Anderson, North Richland Hills P.L., Tex.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Raw Deal Raw Deal (1994)
From Publishers Weekly
There's no question about Standiford's terrific ability to move a story along, but, judging by this generally sharp sequel to his debut novel, Done Deal, his characterizations could use some tuning. Building contractor John Deal, eventually convinced by his tenant Vernon Driscoll, a salty retired Miami cop, that a fire at Deal's fourplex apartment building was arson, finds himself caught in a dangerous maze populated by Cuban exiles, big sugar interests and a secret federal agency. One exile, Vincente Luis Torreno, is illegally-and lethally-using his access to exiles' funds and to vicious ex-wrestler Coco Morales to become the leading sugar planter in Florida. Deal and Driscoll's investigation of the arson, which soon has them tangling with Torreno and Coco, leads in time to a violent climax at a lakeside retreat populated by predatory lungfish, huge rodents and a hungry jungle cat. The pacing is brisk, the dialogue crisp and most of the characterizations colorful, but Deal himself has a grievously annoying flaw: a bathetic sense of guilt that every so often stops the narrative cold to allow him to wallow. Fortunately, comic relief is offered by Driscoll ("Why don't you go roll around in broken glass," he asks Deal after one angst-ridden outburst), who, by novel's end, has opened his own detective agency. Readers will no doubt look forward to further adventures with this cheerily vulgar PI; their tolerance for Deal, however, likely will depend on his ability to get a grip. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Deal to Die for Deal to Die for (1995)
From Publishers Weekly
This suspenseful third John Deal crime thriller from Standiford finds the Miami building contractor tangling with Chinese gangsters who are trying to move in on a scheme hatched by two Hollywood porno magnates to create X-rated films for the huge mainland Chinese market. Deal already has troubles enough?his wife, Janice, has sunk into a deep depression over the serious burns she suffered in last year's Raw Deal, and a close friend has apparently committed suicide, shortly after she has told her film-star sister, Paige Nobleman, that Paige was adopted. Deal and his tenant/pal, ex-cop Vernon Driscoll, begin investigating Paige's birth and, eventually, the friend's death, following leads that take them directly into the porno scheme and the path of some deadly Chinese gang members. Standiford, an unusually fine thriller writer who has won the Frank O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and who directs the creative writing program at Florida International University, is at the top of his game here, displaying excellent pacing and a particular affinity for action scenes. The ongoing saga of John Deal remains especially intriguing above all, however, because its author drenches each volume in the ambiguities?sometimes rewarding, sometimes nightmarish?of real life. $25,000 ad/promo; author tour; U.K. and translation rights: Sobel Weber; first serial and dramatic rights: Nat Sobel.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Deal On Ice Deal on Ice (1997)
From Publishers Weekly
Miami contractor John Deal hopes to reconcile with his wife, Janice, after her nervous breakdown. But it's slow going. In this fourth and best installment in a first-rate thriller series (Deal to Die For, etc.), Standiford litters the road back to serenity with dead bodies. Janice's boss, Arch Dolan, owner of a successful independent bookstore in Coral Gables, Fla., is killed in an apparent after-hours robbery. Then, in quick succession, the CEO of a huge bookstore chain and a local lawyer-fixer (and his doxy) meet spectacularly violent deaths. Deal starts finding links, including Dolan's sister Sara; the Nebraska-based Worldwide Church of Light, led by televangelist-mogul James Ray Willis?and the Kittles, cuddly 60-somethings who seem to have walked right off a Norman Rockwell magazine cover but who are stone-hearted killers. Deal and poor, rattled Janice are on the move and in constant danger, from south Florida to a blood- and snow-covered climax in Nebraska. The main villain's attempt to control worldwide communications is a bit goofy, but readers won't care because Standiford serves up crackerjack action and memorable characters like the killer Kittles, she in her Minnie Pearl hats, he in polyester, fitting in everywhere?lethally. $30,000 ad/promo; author tour; U.K., translation, first serial, dramatic rights: Sobel Weber.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Presidential Deal Presidential Deal (1998)
From Publishers Weekly
Standiford again proves he has the right stuff with this fifth?perhaps breakout?episode in the ongoing misadventures of unassuming, dilemma-prone Miami builder John Deal (Deal on Ice, etc.). Overnight, Deal achieves national hero status when he and ex-cop sidekick Vernon Driscoll save a boatload of Cuban refugees from drowning in Biscayne Bay. Modestly protesting the ordinariness of his act, Deal is awarded the Presidential Medal of Valor. As a campaign gimmick, the president moves the presentation ceremony to Miami, and the accidental hero is unwittingly caught in a sinister web of high-level chicanery. In what is staged to look like a Latino terrorist attack, hosts of innocent dignitaries and bystanders are gunned down, and the First Lady and Deal are taken as hostages to a tiny isolated tropical island. Despite flak from the tightly wound spook in charge, Driscoll uses his underworld connections to locate the small-time hood who supplied the contraband weapons to the terrorists and embarks on a hairy rescue mission, which leads to Nassau and back to the Keys. The indomitable Deal manages to survive a hurricane, turn the tables on the world-class terrorist leader and save the First Lady before he ultimately exposes the malevolent mastermind in the White House. For all the baroqueness of the plot, Standiford builds a tight narrative with credibly flawed characters and a powerful sense of place. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Deal with the Dead Deal with the Dead (2001)
From Publishers Weekly
After a 30-month-long hiatus that produced the Deal-less action chiller Black Mountain (Forecasts, Jan. 31), erudite suspense author Standiford brings back urban Miami builder John DealAa sort of "Galahad with a claw hammer"Ain this artfully crafted, ingeniously layered noir fiction. Moving easily back and forth from the late '50s-early '60s (when Deal's construction mogul father, Barton Deal, played a major part in building the Gleason/Sinatra-era skyscrapers of Miami and Miami Beach) to time present, when John is struggling to restore the fortunes of DealCo, the novel also hopscotches from Turkey to Paris, the Caribbean and South Florida, taking scion Deal and his ex-cop sidekick Vernon Driscoll on a collision course with the past. When Deal learns he has been selected as the winning bidder on a lucrative government-funded project, he is visited by a mysterious figure claiming to be a federal spook. John is told that, to save himself from bankruptcy, his father was coerced into an alliance with a Mafia kingpin, then forced to turn informer for the same covert government agent. Caught between the forces of good and evil, Deal's father was ordered to assassinate his friend Grant Rhodes, a high-rolling owner of a gambling ship and several casinos. His betrayal of the mob led to the elder Deal's apparent suicide. In time present, John is caught up in a similar quandary as Rhodes's son shows up to collect his father's treasure stash. Standiford endows his sixth Deal adventure with a gloriously labyrinthine plot, Arthurian characters and Gatsbyesque atmospherics, proving once more that he is a master of crime fiction. Considering that Deal fans have been waiting more than two years for their fix, this satisfying addition to the series should enjoy brisk sales. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Bone Key Bone Key (2002)
From Publishers Weekly
Among mystery buffs, John D. MacDonald may be the poet laureate of South Florida, but now Standiford whose work has been praised by Elmore Leonard and Stephen King, among others bids fair to be MacDonald's heir apparent. (Travis McGee fans will note John Deal's resemblance to MacDonald's "salvage consultant," and Standiford, like MacDonald, excels at depicting violence.) The novel takes its cue from John Hersey's hymn to Key West ("Many of the citizens are well acquainted with mischief, but at a cost"). The story begins in 1931 with a storm passing through the Florida straits; there's a devastating explosion aboard a freighter, The Magdalena, and then oblivion. Many years later, John Deal, who inherited the Dealco Construction firm from his late father, is visiting Key West to discuss a building project. He steps in to help a black youth, Dequarius Noyes, from being harassed by a deputy. Soon afterward, Noyes turns up in Deal's hotel room dead. In the kid's hand is the label from a bottle of rare wine, vintage 1929, worth thousands of dollars. There's more, much more, including buried treasure, an old girlfriend who reappears out of nowhere and, of course, murder. The labyrinthine plot, involving a case of rare wine worth $100,000, will delight oenophiles. Thriller buffs in general and readers of South Florida mysteries in particular should find this one well up to Standiford's standard.
Book Deal Book Deal (2002)
Reluctant sleuth and Miami developer John Deal is the last of his kind—a builder who appreciates his craft. His friend Arch Dolan was the last of his kind, too, a Miami bookseller who sold books because he loved them. Now someone has killed him for it. And he's only the first body to fall. In quick succession the CEO of a huge bookstore chain and a local lawyer meet violent ends...and Deal starts finding connections.
Still, it's not easy for Deal: his estranged wife Janice, is still emotionally and physically scarred from mishaps the last time Deal stepped into the path of the wrong people. But Janice was close to Arch and she's as eager to find the killer as her husband. Working together, they discover that Arch's sister, lately employed by a charismatic revivalist, has disappeared. With the clues pointing north, Deal and Janice set out on a journey to a distant and frigid climate, one that threatens to chill them out for good.
Havana Run Havana Run (2003)
From Publishers Weekly
This rock-solid novel, number eight in Standiford's line of South Florida crime capers (Deal on Ice; Raw Deal; etc.) is as blunt and powerful as a punch to the head from series hero John Deal himself. Deal is rebuilding the failed Miami construction firm he inherited from his father, dead by suicide. Soon after moving to Key West to oversee a major construction contract, Deal is approached by Antonio Fuentes, a mysterious businessman, who attempts to hire him to oversee a huge rebuilding project in Havana, slated to begin once Castro has departed the scene. Deal has his suspicions, especially after Fuentes offers a check for a million dollars as a retainer. Next to make Deal an offer is Norbert Vines, special agent from the Department of Justice. Vine convinces Deal to go along with Fuentes and report back to the department on what the businessman and his shadowy partners are really up to in Cuba. A few hours later, Deal is on Fuentes's lavish yacht, headed into Cuban waters. Once there, everything goes to hell in short order as it turns out that (surprise!) Fuentes hasn't been entirely on the level. Unsure who is friend and who foe, Deal is blindsided by a bombshell plot twist that will have readers flipping wildly back to the front of the book to see how Standiford pulled it off. From here on in, the action is searing and nonstop, blazing ahead to a satisfyingly violent conclusion.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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