Robert Randisi is the kind of author that puts out five or six books a year, mostly westerns or mysteries. The emphasis is on quantity. However, his Rat Pack mysteries are the kind of books that make me clear my schedule whenever one comes in. They are a guilty pleasure.
The book titles are puns off old Sinatra favorites, such as I'm A Fool to Kill You and Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime. The main character is Eddie Gianelli, a pit boss for the Sands Hotel in the early sixties. Generally, one of the boys, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, or Sammy Davis, Jr., is in some sort of trouble, and Eddie is the fixer who makes it go away. When things get too hot even for Eddie, he calls on Jerry Epstein, a made man, who arrives with guns and a big appetite. Wandering through the series are people like Ava Gardner, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Monroe. Randisi has a knack for creating strong characterization in just a few sentences.
Of course, the big star of the series is Kennedy era Las Vegas, full of landmark casinos like the Sands, which no longer exists. It was a day when the city was very obviously mob-owned, and Eddie and Jerry are despised by the police for being part of organized crime. However, you’ll find yourself rooting for them as they help Frankie’s pals out of one scrape or another. Ring-a-ding-ding, indeed!
(Photo of Will Thomas by Gentry Bowles)