Bliss

Bliss

by Bob Sloan
     
 

Lenny Bliss seems to be losing touch with his life. It wasn't that Bliss's marriage was falling apart - it had already fallen. But the pieces had arranged themselves so neatly on the floor, he and his wife decided to leave them there, and they and the kids just walked around them. His daughters were becoming more sullen every day. His stand-up-comic wife was… See more details below

Overview

Lenny Bliss seems to be losing touch with his life. It wasn't that Bliss's marriage was falling apart - it had already fallen. But the pieces had arranged themselves so neatly on the floor, he and his wife decided to leave them there, and they and the kids just walked around them. His daughters were becoming more sullen every day. His stand-up-comic wife was preoccupied with her Lenny Bruce-meets-June Cleaver comedy routine. "One morning I woke up and there was a hooker in our bed. I tell my husband the cop, 'Honey, you've got to learn how not to take your work home with you.'" Then a body is found in a walkup on Manhattan's East Side. Type: dead. Female. Thirty-two. What at first blush looks like a case of a working girl killed by a john turns into something infinitely more complicated and much closer to Bliss's heart. When another girl is murdered, the trail of lingerie leads Bliss to Brighton Beach, where he has to deal with the dark world of the Russian mob before he can solve the case. For readers who like the notion of a T. S. Eliot-loving Jewish detective who chooses to live right smack down in the middle of Gotham, for fans of Donald Westlake, this highly literate mystery debut delivers on the promise inherent in its namesake.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like its villain, this first in a projected series has big ideas but lacks the discipline or the knowledge to achieve them. New York homicide detective Lenny Bliss has the murders of two Russian-born hookers to solve. He's a hangdog kind of a guy, like Stuart Kaminsky's Lieberman, only a little younger and a little less cynical. The dead hookers are both victims of blundering, delusional Johnny Tolstoy, an occasional pimp and aspiring stand-up comic who runs afoul of the Russian mobsters who control the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn. The first dead girl is a dentist with two children, who was working nights to raise the cash to return home. Tolstoy kills the women, pretty much senselessly, and then tries to incorporate his sinister tendencies into his stand-up routine. Bliss's wife, Rachel, is also bitten by the funny bug, and Sloan subjects readers to bits of her act, an abysmal routine lamenting the pitfalls of being a cop's mate. Forsaking all suspense, Sloan hands us Tolstoy in the second chapter. Worse, while Bliss is good for a few quiet chuckles, his wife is relentlessly, mindnumbingly unfunny. Sloan offers a handful of decent lines, an agreeably subtle notion of pathos and no apparent ability to sustain wit beyond the first few punchlines or plot beyond the third chapter. (Aug.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Sloan has initiated a new police procedural series. Manhattan homicide detective Lenny Bliss and his handsome partner Ward investigate the murder of a beautiful Russian dentist and mother who temporarily turned call-girl in order to raise start-up cash for her office back home. Meanwhile, the murderer runs afoul of the Russian mafia in Brighton Beach. Graphic language, good characterization, and realistic dialog, great sense of place. Recommended.
George Needham
Lenny Bliss is a New York City homicide detective, the loving but unintentionally remote father of two young daughters and the indifferent husband of a stand-up comedian whose shtick revolves around life as the wife of a cop. In this auspicious debut, Bliss searches for the murderer of a prostitute, a Russian emigredentist turning tricks in the U.S. in order to get enough money to establish a practice back in Moscow. Drawn by the dead woman's beauty and the emotional reactions of her friends to her death, Bliss becomes obsessed with the case, risking everything to find the killer. Instead, he finds himself and rediscovers his family. Sloan has created both an appealingly offbeat protagonist and several solid supporting characters, including Lenny's partner, Ward, and his daughters, Julia and Cori. One can only hope that future entries will feature more of Lenny's wife, Rachel Davis, the rising comedian. A fine start to a promising series.
Kirkus Reviews
Detective Lenny Bliss, NYPD Homicide, can't buy a break. His neglected wife Rachel Davis has started to pull in club audiences for her comedy routines based on his sad-sack grind; his daughters understudy their mother by trying out their jokes about the Cereal Killer and the De-Ranged Killer on him; his octoroon partner Ward's jazzy crime-scene patter gives him nightmares. And now Ward's riding high, because the murder of St. Petersburg dentist Elena Koroshekvesy, last seen turning tricks in the Big Apple, and the taunting phone calls Bliss has been getting from whoever killed another prostitute and left her body in an obliging dumpster, are nasty enough material for Ward's cruelest cracks. But Bliss isn't the only one who's feeling the pinch. Performance artist Johnny Tolstoy, the pimp who strangled Elena, feels as if he's just killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. Elena's replacement, the angelic waitress Tatyana, turns out to have ideas of her own about their partnership. So does Brighton Beach kingpin Sascha the Bear, who expects a hefty percentage of Tatyana's take. Johnny may just have to slice his way out of these troubles. . . .

Sloan's first mystery (following Dad's Own Cookbook, not reviewed) is jocular, neurotic, and depressive—not by turns, but all at once. It's like watching a psychotic standup comic self- destruct on the analyst's couch.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684822501
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
08/05/1996
Series:
Lenny Bliss Series
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.99(w) x 8.75(h) x 0.95(d)

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