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WesternSFA
Callahan's Con
by Spider Robinson
Tor, 286pp
Copyright 2003
This is the last published Callahan story; so ends my review odyssey. It’s been ten years since this was published but Spider did say that there’s every possibility another might crop up…much as Mike Callahan himself tends to do from time to time.

The story begins ten years after the previous book where baby Erin saved the universe. She’s growing up – physically, as she’s been mentally mature since birth. Life has been bucolic and quiet at The Place, no alien invasions, no dire save-the-earth scenarios. But the calm is broken by a…shudder… visit from a bureaucrat of the Florida Dept of Education. Someone has sicced the state government on Erin ’s parents, to investigate if she is living in a healthy environment. Poor Jake, in his usual style, totally flubs the meeting while desperately wishing his wife was there to intercede. And, although Jake doesn’t believe anything could be worse, the bar then gets a visit from a transplanted thug of a Mafioso who’s looking to increase his financial holdings and gain some street cred with his superiors. A shakedown, in other words.

It quickly becomes apparent that there is no good way to defuse the carnage being inflicted by Little Nuts, as he’s known, without blowing their cover to the government. The government would love nothing more than to lock up a little girl with a computer-like brain or a bunch of barflies who have telepathy. But again, it’s Erin to the rescue and her solution is nothing short of comic although a little thrilling even though I knew Spider wouldn’t let anything happen to her. There were also some heart-stopping moments when it looked like Jake might lose his second wife. And, ultimately, it was Jake who soothed the terrible bureaucrat and cleaned up his own mess left over from his departure from Long Island that had actually precipitated the visit from said bureaucrat.

But all was not all’s-well-that-ends-well. Someone in Jake’s closest family is dying and there doesn’t seem to be a solution for that. Jake desperately needs Mike but he and his family must still be busy saving something or someone because no one picks up the phone. I’ll not say more and leave it to you to make peace with the loss.

This was great fun and I am disappointed that it’s the end…so far. Spider has a deft hand with gentle comedy and pathos. I expect a feeling of visiting friends while reading a Callahan book and I am never disappointed. Thanks for a fun ride, Spider.

And I’ll leave you with one of my most favorite quotes by you-know-who: “Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.” ~~ Catherine Book

BONUS FOR EVERYONE WHO READ THIS FAR: When I’m done reviewing the whole series, there will be a Trivia Contest and the winner will win my whole Callahan collection. Click on the link to your left to see the trivia contest info and questions.

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