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    Review of LAWRENCE SANDERS McNALLY'S BLUFF by Vincent Lardo


    G. P. Putnam's Sons, August 2004

    All of Palm Beach society is gathered at the home of a new arrival--former carnival owner Matthew Hayes. The party, a first look at a huge maze the carney built on his expensive property. But the prize turns out to be something none of the party-goers expected--a dead body at the center of the maze. Private Investigator (and man about town) Archy McNally was at the party and now Matt is asking for Archy's help in finding his wife's killer. Archy resists at first--but the case just might tie into another one that his father has been asked to provide legal services to.

    As always, Archy finds himself swimming through a sea of beautiful women. There's his longtime-but-no-longer lover, Consuela. There's new love interest, Georgie. But there's also the beautiful and rich widow of a Florida billionaire--who just might have killed that very billionaire. And Archy can't help being attracted to the T.V. star--despite her being quite married. With his erstwhile sidekick, Binky, off providing services to a muckraking reporter, Archy is on his own in trying to find a killer.

    The Vincent Lardo/Lawrence Sanders stories (see more reviews of novels in this series) attempt and sometimes achieve a modern remake of the suave private eyes of the 1930s. Archy is always well (if sometimes ostentatiously) dressed, likes his alcohol, treats women like cute puppies, and is fastidious with his grammar. In several earlier stories, I objected to a streak of cruelty in Archy's treatment of Binky and others. Here, Archy seems not less full of himself but at least less cruel to others. His run-in with a several-year-old suit even exposed a bit of well-hidden self-doubt.

    Lardo keeps a quick light tone, maintains a steady diet of beautiful women, corpses, high society, and murder, and delivers a page-turning mystery read. It's fluff, of course, but it's enjoyable fluff.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 8/19/04

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