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From his curved-glass desk in a casino overlooking the Atlantic City boardwalk, Jackie "Disaster" Sesto—an ex-welterweight boxing champ and former top flack for the Atlantic City Police Department—has a great view of the hustlers he now makes his living nailing.
Jackie runs Allegation Sciences, a crisis management firm known for helping businesses with uncomfortably public problems. That's why Sally Naturale, America's deliciously loathsome doyenne of good taste and wholesome living, hires him after a pregnant South Jersey woman blames her miscarriage on Sally's organic soy milk.
Jackie doesn't buy the poor woman's story and, worse, he doesn't buy Sally Naturale's version either. His suspicions are confirmed when assassins from the Jersey Pine Barrens try to kill him one night in his sleep.
So with his band of subversives (a.k.a. the Imps), Jackie embarks on a gonzo damage control campaign to vindicate Sally and catch the folks who are trying to drag him down with her.
In turns suspenseful and hilarious, Jackie Disaster is a spin-till-you're dizzy dance through the mysteries of media manipulation and South Jersey.
The world of the private eye and the spy gets spun for the 21st century in Dezenhall's broadly comic romp, in which Jackie Disaster protects the reputations of corporate clients under attack. Born Giovanni De Sesto, Jackie picked up his moniker as a kid boxer fighting in Golden Gloves and has grown up to head Allegation Sciences, with offices in an Atlantic City casino. Hired by Sally Naturale kind of a mutated Martha Stewart from Jersey after a woman claims she lost her unborn baby from drinking one of Sally's soy milk products, Disaster heads out to discredit the accuser and make the daffy Sally look as untarnished as possible. Dezenhall (Money Wanders), who once worked in the Reagan White House and currently is president of a crisis management firm, seems to be extrapolating the action from his popular nonfiction book, Nail 'Em! Confronting High-Profile Attacks on Celebrities and Businesses (1999). The undercover scenes with Jackie and his crew, known as the Imps, are great entertainment, with the Mafia hovering in the shadows and that Jersey setting, where "the Rocky movies had once been to the Delaware Valley what the Koran is to Islam." But the more realistic moments Jackie's romance, problems with his father and raising his orphaned niece as a single dad don't quite click amid all the clowning. This novel provides lots of fun in a Carl Hiassen mode.