The Sunday Macaroni Club
by Steve Lopez
Category: Fiction / General
367 pages; ISBN: 0452281385
Rating: 6/10 (Ratings explained)
Steve Lopez is an award-winning journalist from Philadelphia, This is his second novel following "Third and Indiana" a rather grim account of drug dealing in the city.
With "Sunday Macaroni Club" his focus has switched to politics unremittingly presented as a corrupt unedifying business. The Club is a weekly dinner hosted by an ageing former Senator already banged up once for corruption but still attempting to pull the strings in the forthcoming elections. He and his associates are being tracked by a young female DA, Savitch, and a veteran FBI agent, Muldoon.Their fairly routine games of cat and mouse are upset when a pollution scandal hits the city with consequences for both parties.
Lopez has a good eye for detail and we get all the back-scratching, graft, nepotism, dirty tricks, bribery, ballot rigging etc that apparently goes with the territory. It's written with conviction and lucidity and you begin to see why he's won journalistic awards.
However accuracy alone does not make one a good novelist. The plot proceeds in a very mechanical fashion with a "surprise" twist in the last paragraph of every chapter, a device that soon becomes annoying through overuse. His characters are, without exception, two-dimensional heroes and villains particularly Savitch and Muldoon whose wisecracking relationship is a tiresome cliche to be found in dozens of Hollywood thrillers. Muldoon seems to be designed for Gene Hackman though one thinks he'd demand a better script. Augie's partial redemption towards the end of the novel is so telegraphed you get bored waiting for the wheels to bring it round.
Ultimately Lopez has obscured his message by placing it in the novel form which he has yet to