"In Fool's Errand, the pages turn themselves. The plot twists in all the right places. Questions go unanswered until the very end. The story leaves the reader thinking about the character's life beyond the last page—the sign of any good tale."
"The book was just pure pleasure, and as readers of this column know, I am typically NOT drawn to novels...but Fool's Errand is definitely an exception."
"While Fool's Errand brings elements of The Maltese Falcon (one of my all-time favorite films), Goodfellas, and even a dash of old-school detective thrillers and serial films, this tale is fully current. It's a great read and a worthy weekend escape from real life. It doesn't insult anyone's beliefs or intelligence. It's smart, it's sharp, and it will make a strong movie in the right creative hands. I picked up Fool's Errand and read it through, cover to cover, in a day. Stephens' prose is brisk and clean, to the point, and entertaining as it keeps you turning pages. Fool's Errand is a fun, satisfying read, full of heart and surprises."
"Stephens deftly weaves poignant, entertaining, humorous, romantic, and mysterious elements into his narrative driven suspense thriller of a novel, Fool's Errand."
"Fool's Errand contains all the required satisfying ingredients of a mob-inspired mystery—intrigue, mystery, romance, valuables and even some tough guys thrown in for good measure... This is a pursuit that is not always what it seems, hang on for the ride!"
"Fool's Errand is poignant and entertaining, humorous and exciting, romantic and mysterious—an adventure that explores the relationship between a father and son, and the events that will ultimately lead that young man to discover both the treasure and himself."
"The author did an exceptional job with the twists and turns throughout the story to keep you wondering about: is there really any treasure, who knows about the treasure and where could the treasure be? I definitely recommend this book for anyone who loves a fictional mob-inspired mystery!"
"Fool's Errand is primarily a cleverly-plotted mystery, but Stephens never loses sight of the personalities he's creating. Stephens continues to mature as an author; and he keeps his plots intriguing and his characters involving."
A cryptic posthumous letter sends a New Yorker on a cross-country and trans-Atlantic treasure hunt.
Stephens’ latest mystery centers on a 27-year-old son’s discovering a secret his poetry-loving dad, who earned his living by occasionally breaking strangers’ arms for not paying their gambling debts, took to his grave. In the early 1960s, John “Blackie” Rinaldi’s son discovers at a young age that his dad works for the mob. Now, more than six years after Blackie met an early death, his widow calls their son to retrieve a box containing photographs and medals from when Blackie served in France in World War II. Also included is a letter he wrote to his son that hints about “something really big in the works” that only he, his buddy Benny, and an unnamed friend know about. Blackie’s son flies to Las Vegas to meet Benny, who doesn’t divulge the “big” deal but does reveal that the other friend mentioned in the letter is Frenchman Gilles de la Houssay. Benny suggests: “See if you can find Gilles, see if he’ll talk to you.” The scene shifts to France, but not before Blackie’s son meets beautiful, blue-eyed Donna on the plane home from Vegas. The plus of meeting her is followed by the negative of discovering his apartment was broken into while he was away. Someone, possibly a relative who is a “certified scumbag of the first order,” was hellbent on finding Blackie’s letter. The culprit wanted a piece—or more—of what its contents would lead to. Told in the first person, this engaging mystery is both plot- and character-driven. Moving from past to present is deftly handled, and the mystery presented seems both plausible and intriguing. Love of family, albeit a flawed one, is key. Blackie has a loving wife and a sweet, if sometimes contentious, bond with his son, whom he plays poker with. The historical fiction element concerning World War II adds depth to the story, as do thought-provoking takeaways, such as this observation by Blackie’s son: “An old friend once warned me that ‘catching up’ is the death knell of a relationship. When all you’ve got to talk about is how other people are doing, it means you have nothing in common anymore.”
A smooth balance between mystery and history.