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The Accidental Pallbearer (Paperback)
Introducing a gritty new detective series set in the bleak hinterlands of upstate new York
Washed-up private investigator Eliot Conte would rather be teaching American literature and listening to opera than taking pictures of spouses in flagrante delicto. But he flamed out of an academic career when he hung the Provost of UCLA out a window, and he had to come home --- to bleak Utica, New York, where his aging father, Silvio Conte, a political kingmaker, is still cutting deals and hustling appointments, and his all-but-in-blood brother Antonio Robinson is the city's first black Chief of Police.
But now Antonio's asking him for a favor that, to Eliot, doesn't seem like the kind of thing a police chief should ask for ... especially as he begins to uncover a trail of evidence leading back to the most sensational hit in local Mafia history. In a Utica marked by economic devastation and racial tensions, Eliot picks up one strand after another, weaving his way through a web of allegiances, grudges, and his own dark demons. Who is the spider at the center of it all?
About the Author
FRANK LENTRICCHIA was raised in Utica, New York, to working class, first generation Italian-American parents. A chaired professor of literature at Duke University, he is the author of several highly acclaimed and often controversial critical studies; novels, including "Johnny Critelli" and "The Knifemen"; and a memoir, "The Edge of Night."
“Frank Lentricchia’s new novel ranks as entertainment of a high order – funny, fast-moving and hot-blooded. It’s also the kind of novel that will appeal to readers who like their fiction to carry depth and range.” –Don DeLillo
"Bravissimo!" —Lisa Scottoline
"The Accidental Pallbearer is a brilliant piece of fiction, and a page turner to boot, able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the best writing in America today." --Jay Parini
"The Accidental Pallbearer deserves to be read alongside the best literary detective fiction of our time. Lentricchia's protagonist is the anti-hero par excellence - you can't put him down, either physically or emotionally - whose only equal is Fabio Montale from the great Marseilles trilogy by Jean-Claude Izzo." --John R. MacArthur, publisher, Harper's
“Vivid and unnerving … Eliot Conte is an instant original.” — The Washington Post
”Lentricchia captures the feel of upstate New York (Richard Russo territory) and of Italian American culture within a familiar genre, with predictable grit and wit. We hope to see more of Conte and perhaps of his promising romantic interest, a Troy policewoman.” – Booklist
“There’s a Quentin Tarantino masculinity to this story of a private investigator known for solving knotty problems in not-quite-lawful ways.” –The Charlotte Observer
“More than a thriller … Lentricchia’s prose soars…” — The Raleigh-Durham Herald-Sun
“Lentricchia’s latest work, in my opinion his finest, certainly the one most accessible to a wide audience, is entitled “The Accidental Pallbearer,” a detective-crime-Mafioso novel set in Utica, full of bits and pieces of authentic Utica history, altered and molded into a totally fictional story that is fast-paced and thrilling, scene after scene. It has the hard-bitten diction and action of “Film Noir” (and I do believe it is destined to be made into a film). Central to the novel is the conflict of family loyalty versus family disintegration that makes the best of Italian-American fiction so riveting.” — The Union Observer Dispatch
Praise for The Knifemen and Johnny Critelli
"[Scenes that are] somber or funny or lose-your-lunch ugly....The sabotage and sadness are real, and the language out of the streets and kitchens and bedrooms is obscenely authentic." --Entertainment Weekly
"Lentricchia has fashioned two short novels that display a rousing capacity for language and a gritty sense of the contemporary male mind." --Publishers Weekly
“Brutal and uncompromising, brilliant and desperate.” —Rolling Stone
“Original and lively. . . Frank Lentricchia is that rare thing, a professor of English with writing talent.” —Frank Kermode