And the plot itself is right out of the movies: The Case of the Missing Maestro. When Fritz Stern, second violinist with the NBC Symphony, walks into LeVine's office, declares that the great conductor Arturo Toscanini has been kidnapped and that the symphony is being led by an impostor, and asks LeVine to investigate, the PI is inclined to think his client is a few noodles short of a kugel. But LeVine is a sucker for sincerity and beautiful daughters, and Stern has both. When the violinist is found dead shortly thereafter, guilt and vengeance enter the motivational mix.
At NBC's urging (is it LeVine's imagination or do those corporate execs have something to hide?), LeVine, hot on Toscanini's trail, heads for Havana, where he finds not the maestro but the mob. Just what is Barbara, Stern's aforementioned daughter, doing with organized crime icon Meyer Lansky? In the process of finding out, LeVine is "injected with enough high- octane opiates to scramble a hippo's consciousness" and shipped off to the middle of a Nevada desert. Newly bustling Las Vegas is a place where people arrive with heads full of dreams and leave with pockets full of nothing. It's up to LeVine to figure out how corporate greed, a gifted Italian musician, and mob visions of grandeur all come together against this neon-lit backdrop, and if he can do it without taking a detour to the morgue, he'll be a happy man.
Almost 25 years have elapsed between LeVine's last appearance and this cross-country caper, but I'm betting that newly smitten fans won't want to wait that long again for an encore. "I'm sorry, Mr. Spielberg, but Mr. Bergman isn't taking any calls. He's working on his next LeVine novel." We can hope, can't we? --Kelly Flynn -- From Amazon.com Amazon.com Review