Fiction | Money Wanders | Jackie Disaster | Shakedown Beach | Turnpike Flameout | Spinning Dixie
The Devil Himself | Non-Fiction | Glass Jaw | Nail 'Em! | Damage Control

Money Wanders

"A New Jersey mafia don can't get a casino license, so he hires public relations rep Jonah Eastman to clean up his image. Clever and cringe-inducing. Read the Full Review

"Money Wanders is a great read... full of odd characters, quirky locations and a clever, fresh plot that kept me turning pages. A complicated and hilarious spin campaign makes the mobster a national hero... the brilliance of the spin is worth the price alone."

"A comedic tale of media manipulation and mob bravura... it's a saltwater dandy."

"It's a little unnerving to read a spin doctor's book on how easy it is to dupe everybody — but, in Money Wanders, it's also very funny."

"Readers won't believe this is a first novel: sharply drawn characters, delightful dialogue, and a plot that not only delivers the goods but does so with piles of panache. Even the premise is a knockout... The author, a noted "spin" expert... fills the novel with scads of delicious detail. It is oddly thrilling to watch pollster Jonah Eastman marshal his troops, work his magic, and tell the American public what to think. Not only does Dezenhall have a sure grasp of his material, he also has a nice comedic touch. Like Donald E. Westlake, when he's in his comedy mode, Dezenhall starts us off chuckling, moves us easily to guffaws, and then winds up with some nicely timed belly laughs... If this debut is any indication, Dezenhall's career as a novelist shouldn't need much spinning to take off."

"Many people gauge a novel by how hard it is to put down. By that standard Money Wanders is the best book I have picked up this year. It has all the elements of drama, surprise and humor that make for a great work of fiction. The author, Mr. Dezenhall, brings together the not so disparate elements of political polling and organized crime on the Jersey shore... Money Wanders is highly recommended."

"In his new book Money Wanders, Eric Dezenhall does something audacious... he somehow transforms South Jersey into an engaging, endearing, quirky character. Our very own South Jersey — so often dismissed as an anonymous geography of nowhere or anywhere — is so vivid a presence in Money Wanders it practically talks. The region's indelible accent blares from the lips of "Irv the Curve," Dollsy (the waitress), Fuzzy Marino and other kooky characters in Dezenhall's picaresque gangster saga/political satire. In Money Wanders, narrator Jonah Eastman, the grandson of a legendary Jewish mobster, is dragooned into orchestrating an elaborate media and Internet campaign to remake an Italian gangster into a populist hero. Only in South Jersey."

"What a gangster wants, a gangster gets. That's one thing we've learned from countless mob-genre movies, books and TV shows. But in Eric Dezenhall's novel, Money Wanders, mob boss Mario Vanni wants a casino license, and he's not getting one on account of his bad rep and criminal record. So he hires young Republican pollster Jonah Eastman - "College," to Vanni's gangster buddies - to improve his image. After some reluctance, Eastman is sufficiently "persuaded" and dives into the project, using D.C. spin tactics usually reserved for politicians - a different breed of crook - to overhaul Vanni's image. Dezenhall, who now lives in Maryland, based these characters on "the rogues I grew up around in South Jersey," he says, "the ones with cool nicknames who talked to each other on the Boardwalk with cigars hanging out of their mouths." The novel is set in Atlantic City and Philadelphia and makes use of such local landmarks as Lucy the Elephant in Margate (it's Vanni's secret meeting place) and Ponzio's in Cherry Hill."

"Jonah Eastman, a Washington pollster, was a top Republican image meister in his better days. But his reputation is down, and he's just about out when he is summoned by a Philadelphia Mafia don who makes him an offer he can't refuse: improve my image. The mobster, Mario Vanni, wants enough legitimacy to win a big casino license. Conflicted, Eastman obliges, and Money Wanders becomes a riotous parody of Internet players, journalists, politicians and pollsters alike. Eastman finds himself surrounded by Atlantic City wise guys, including some who regard the "Ivory League" graduate as a threat to their turf. As he fends them off, Eastman engineers a campaign of phony Internet postings, stages videos and even a U.S. Senate appearance. This is author Eric Dezenhall's debut novel, and the former Reagan White House staffer and co-founder of a crisis management firm knows his stuff. His superb eye and ear at times call to mind such masters of the journalistic novel as Tom Wolfe. This is one for the carry-on bag."

"Dezenhall nimbly skewers the Internet, journalists, politicians, and public relations spinmeisters and their power to dupe huge numbers of people... Thoughtful, unpretentious, filled with laugh-out-loud funny scenes and delightfully realized characters. Place your bets on this winner."