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What Goes Around Comes Around: A Mystery Novel Featuring Bartender Brian McNulty    by Con Lehane order for
What Goes Around Comes Around
by Con Lehane
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Cornelius (Con) Lehane brings back for seconds Brian McNulty, the New York bartender, wannabe actor, and reluctant investigator introduced in Beware the Solitary Drinker. McNulty's settling back into his job after all the excitement of that first adventure when his two oldest friends enter, in turn, stage left.

First comes Midtown Sheraton's regional manager, and Brian's protective old buddy, the larger than life, gregarious Big John Wolinski. While they share a drink, the third member of their past trio, Greg, phones Brian, sounding like he's in trouble, and then briefly joins them. They plan to meet again, but Greg subsequently turns out to be extremely elusive. John offers Brian a management job at the Ocean Club, that turns out to allow him a great deal of free time. He needs it, after a tuxedo-attired corpse floats by the restaurant, and turns out to be that of another old acquaintance. Curiosity leads McNulty to a B & E charge and jail time. There are dangerous Union entanglements, illegals, and drugs. Our anti-hero is threatened and shot, and that's only the beginning.

Enlisting as sidekick his Eritrean cabdriver pal Ntango, 'one of those people who ... put a premium on being part of humanity', Brian revisits his Atlantic City past, where he finds links to an old girlfriend, unsolved murders and racketeering. I love Lehane's description of the area's 'Glass and steel skyscrapers ... oblongs and squares, pillars and obelisks, glittering monuments to greed.' He's also helped by his colorful Communist Pop's old newspaper cronies (though Pop gives sound advice, Brian doesn't always listen). This protagonist is an anti-hero who bounces reactively from one situation to the next, always pausing en route for drinks of course. He's an inadvertent PI, who sadly doesn't get any of the girls he romances in this episode either.

I like the series premise, and enjoy Lehane's witty writing. And though I could see the ending of What Goes Around Comes Around coming, I enjoyed the ride to get there and the company along the way.

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