Review of "Just Like Old Times", A Johnny Casino Short Story
When Gayle Bartos-Pool teaches her short story class, she tells the students that this more compact form of storytelling is like a brief car trip. She doesn’t mention how fast the car should go, and in “Just Like Old Times”, it’s full throttle.
Johnny Casino is a former mobster turned private eye. He’s retired to a quiet home in the mountains outside of Los Angeles. When a black tie dinner invitation turns into an attempted kidnapping, Johnny discovers that an ex-jewel thief has been framed for murder. He needs Johnny’s help to pin the rap on the real murderer, Vincent Merrick.
Using a set-up worthy of “The Sting”, Johnny turns the tables on bad guy with the help of a cast of aging movie stars.
Pool’s plot moves quickly, and the dialogue crackles with the kind of zingers and banter that haven't been around since the old black-and-white gangster movies. She deftly paints a group of Hollywood has-beens with more class in their pinky fingers than most current A-list actors put together.
“Just Like Old Times” is a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to meet the characters we hope to see more of in Pool’s Johnny Casino collection (which I hope will come out soon!)