7,000 Clams

Written by Lee Irby
Review by Steve Lewis

The starting point here – based on fact, or so I’m told – is that in 1925 a gang of cutthroat gamblers have in their hands an IOU signed by Babe Ruth for $7000, which in today’s world would still be a lot of money. It could be true. Ruth was making more money than the President. He was also a man with prolific vices. Besides gambling, there was carousing, womanizing, and overeating. He was a man with a profane tongue and a lust for life (if not his wife).

Not that Ruth has a leading role. That falls to Frank Hearn instead, a bruiser, a hustler, and a would-be bootlegger who gets possession of the note. Loving him is Irene Howard, a beautiful rich girl who drops out of college only to be with him. Also in the cast is a luscious looker named Ginger DeMore, on the run from Al Capone’s gang, plus assorted hoodlums, killers, cops (crooked and otherwise), mothers and wives, all headed for St. Petersburg, Florida, where the Yankees train.

It’s all beautifully choreographed, but if coincidences bug you, you may think the converging plot lines all too calculated. Very entertaining, but allow yourself a sense of wonder to go along with your sense of humor. Until the ending, which falls flat, squelching the intensity of the climax that seemed to have been prepared for perfectly. What I also really think authors ought to do is finish one book before setting things up for the sequel, and let the follow-up book take care of itself.