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by Jeff Abbott
Orion, February 2004
340 pages
ISBN: 0752860925

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The last book I can remember reading that featured the Mafia was a dog-eared copy of THE GODFATHER which did the rounds in the fourth form at school. Considering our other illicit reading matter was VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, you can see we went for shock value above quality. Reading Jeff Abbott's CUT AND RUN chucked me straight back into a 1970s time warp of strip clubs, down on their luck singers, feisty females and double-crossing baddies.

Eve Michaels works for the Mafia. Aeons ago she did a runner from her husband and children, taking with her a new lover and $5m. But she got cold feet when she discovered the dosh belonged to the Mob, so she returned it to them -- and in return was rewarded with a job as they were so impressed with her balls.

Fast-forward to the present and Eve's now grown-up son Whit is looking for his mother. His father is dying and he reckons the woman who deserted him should come back to provide closure. He tracks her down, amidst a welter of bodies and double and triple-crossing as two Mobsters battle for supremacy -- but soon has cause to wonder just whether he can trust her.

You know every so often you read a book and you get hung up on a minor detail which then proceeds to take on an importance it doesn't really warrant. That happened with CUT AND RUN when I kept wondering about some of the company our crime heroes keep.

Whit is a judge, but his best mate Gooch, who he takes along for the ride, just happens to possess enough weaponry to stage a small civil war. This character bothered me all through the book as I just couldn't buy his friendship with Whit. What it boils down to is that Gooch is a convenient plot device to help Whit out of a hole or ten -- just like Win riding to Myron Bolitar's rescue in the Harlan Coben books.

Mind you, Abbott isn't a patch on Coben. Many of the book's shortcomings stand out because Abbott isn't the sprightliest of storytellers, despite attempting a switchback of a plot. He falls back far too often on violence that's beyond gratuitous. Shuttling between Eve and Whit as narrators doesn't help either, particularly as there's little back story about Whit, and he's a woefully under-drawn character. Eve is far more intriguing, but just when she starts to get interesting, Abbott is up and off elsewhere.

File under 'not my cup of tea.' At all.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, March 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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