Tools of the Trade
by Philip B. Persinger

"She goes up to the flat. She runs the bath. She takes off her clothes and slips into a bottle of whisky."

High finance, haute cuisine, and huge knockers abound in this salty satire that seeks to hoist wretched excess on its own petard. The sex is decidedly kinky, the pace is jet-fueled, and the penman piloting the plot is determined to never substitute a straightforward sentence for a wisecrack, gag, or pun.

With tongue anchored deeply in cheek, author Persinger details the depraved goings on as the second and third richest men in the world lock horns and do battle. The former is a character not unlike the one portrayed in the once ubiquitous Dos Equis world’s-most-interesting-man advertising campaign. Yet he harbors a secret that, if uncovered, might just scuttle his flamboyant facade. The latter is a workaholic, competition-junkie obsessed with besting his more highly revered rival.

While the two principal characters in Persinger’s tawdry tome are indeed larger than life, they are ably assisted by a string of supporting players struggling to steal the show. There’s the daughter of a dominatrix tied up in her own knots as she hurries to get the American version of her British mom’s boys-will-be-girls porn palace off the ground. There’s the stacked movie star with both a career that’s flat lining and an audacious plan to resuscitate it. There’s a policeman recovering from a near fatal wound to his private parts and an even more injurious blow to his psyche administered by his totally toxic stepdaughter. There’s a Stalinist era grouchy old man, a fourth wife bent on winding up even better off than the first three, a sexually unsatisfied yet technically skilled apartment supervisor whose destined to intercede in emergencies both scandalous and potentially explosive. There are even one or two characters that actually possess socially redeeming qualities. Rest assured the author spends little time with them.

Greed, avarice, envy, jealousy and lust propel the plot of this tome that takes satirical whacks at everything from bad business practices to small sexual organs, from lads who labor to ladies who lunch, even to society-funded charitable organizations so in need of the most trendy cause that they turn to “early onset infantile ennui.” Yes, you read that correctly. Angelic babies simply become heartrendingly bored.

In the tradition of Terry Southern’s Candy and Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckenridge, Persinger keeps sex front and center (no pun intended) for all his major players. Initially his plot leaps from one character to the next. Then he begins to create a labyrinth where all the key individuals intersect, intertwine, and inevitably collide. The author’s prose style is rapid fire. Chapters are short. Sentences are punchy. Emotional resonance is absent. The author is more than content to use his impressive vocabulary and linguistic skills in the pursuit of heat rather than light, as he unleashes an unrelenting assault on the reader’s funny bone. Make no mistake, the formidable tools of Mr. Persinger’s trade are irony, wit, and humor—in reverse order, of course. If you like your Martinis dry, but not your literature, chances are you’ll like this novel where it’s continually bottoms up.

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