Nils A. Shapiro
With his first-ever book, author Steve Forman has created a “monster.” I mean that in a very positive sense: In Eddie Perlmutter — a pugnacious, highly decorated ex-cop from Boston who “retires” to Boca Raton to avoid the bitter cold winters that cripple the arthritic knees broken by run-ins with Boston’s criminal element — Forman has come up with a literary character almost certain to end up on the motion picture screen…and Al Pacino would be perfect for the part.
Indeed, Forman already has a commitment from his publisher for a follow-up Eddie Perlmutter/Boca novel, and is working on a third! If my experience reading “Boca Knights” is any indication of those to follow, I am personally going to have a sleeping problem. I read the book in two nights. Intending to just glance through the first few pages, I read no fewer than 14 chapters the first night, finally getting to sleep at 1:30 am, then turned the last of its 331 pages at 2:15 the next morning! You, of course, will have to wait until February 3rd, when “Boca Knights” first hits bookstores. Reserve your copy now. Once the word gets around Boca Raton’s many country clubs, you may not be able to get your hands on one.
What makes Forman’s first book so much fun to read, and so impressive — considering that he has spent most of his life building a multi-million-dollar food company, and began writing as a second career — is his skill in crafting realistic, snappy dialogue; his ability to flesh out his main character of Eddie Perlmutter…and, above all, his understanding, and hilarious descriptions, of life at a Boca Raton country club.
Just as actress Renee Zellweger’s best line, addressed to Tom Cruise in the film “Jerry Maguire,” was “You had me at ‘hello,’” so Forman had me hooked when he opened his Chapter 5 with the following quotation and credit:
“The Lord parted the gates of his waiting room and the elders of the Tribe of Israel saw it was good. ‘This land is mine!’ They exulted and they wandered no more.
— First Book of Arvida, Chapter 561, Verse 33496”
The first four chapters of the book are devoted to developing the ancestry and character of Eddie Perlmutter, beginning with his grandfather in the Ukraine in 1896, and an incident that has great bearing later in Eddie’s life. Both, it seems, are missing a fear gene. Instead, when pushed to the limit, they see “red spots” before their eyes, and, when that happens, watch out! This is what makes Eddie take chances as an unbeaten teen-age amateur boxer and, later in life, as a risk-taking Boston policeman.
But it is when Eddie “retires” to Boca Raton that he falls into situations that demand both his police experience and his fearlessness. And, while I won’t spoil things for you here by relating his Boca exploits, I will say that the very last chapter is absolutely made for the movies—and, as I have mentioned above, Al Pacino would make the perfect Eddie Perlmutter.
For those of you (and there will be many!) who are intrigued specifically by the fact that the book’s primary locale is Boca Raton, be assured that you will enjoy following the trail of events (for example, Forman’s references to Yamato Road and the and synagogue that line up across the street from Broken Sound…his long listing of Boca Country Clubs (you are sure to find yours mentioned in these pages)…and, above all, the laugh-out-loud descriptions of the characters and politics that swirl around life at these Clubs. There is also some interesting information about the very beginnings of the populating of Boca Raton and its earliest days as a city.
What Eddie Perlmutter misses in genes (the lack of fear), Forman makes up for with what is clearly more than the normal share of a humor gene. Take the following as a very brief excerpt from one of the book’s pages:
“’There are a lot of very smart, very successful people here. Tons of them. They’re great. You could write a book about them. But these former high-powered lawyers, doctors, and businessmen aren’t mentally stimulated anymore. You can’t just turn an active mind off for a long time and expect it to run on all twelve cylinders like a Boca Volkswagen.’
‘What’s a Boca Volkswagen?’
“A Bentley Continental GT.’
‘I didn’t know that.’ I laughed.
‘If you didn’t know that,’ Steve remarked, ‘I suppose you don’t know about Boca midnight either.’
‘No,’ I admitted. ‘What’s Boca midnight?’
‘Ten p.m.,’ he explained.
I laughed again.
‘When I first got here,’ Steve went on, ‘I had trouble remembering everyone’s name.’
‘Yeah, I’m having that trouble too,’ I agreed.
‘So, I’m at a cocktail party one night,’ Steve continued, ‘and I see a guy I’m sure I’ve met before but I can’t remember his name. I figured I’d try the honest approach so I shook his hand and said, ‘I’m sorry but I forgot your name’ and he said, ‘So did I.’
Steve and I both burst out laughing.
‘Seriously. You know what really happens to high-powered people when their brains aren’t kept active enough?’
‘They make unimportant things important.’
‘Like golf, or tennis, or where they’re going for dinner every night.’”
When Forman gets into the subject ofinternalClub politics over issues arising from membership squabbles between One Club and Two Club members (at Clubs, for example that have two golf courses), or the episode in which one ladies’ golf foursome is so slow that players behind them become frustrated, and how Eddie handles the matter, the author’s descriptions of their battles and power plays will hit close to home for many readers—but it is all in these pages.
There is one other character who “pops up” throughout the book and plays an important role: a character who prefers to be called Mr. Johnson—a “private part” that speaks to Eddie whenever a promising target goes by. Mr. Johnson’s lines are often funny…but we will leave more about that to the men (and open-minded women) who read “Boca Knights,” and who, like me, will be anxiously awaiting the next two volumes.
with a bow to Senator Tom Dowd for recommending this new book by our fellow Broken Sound Club member Steven M. Forman
Nils A. Shapiro Book Reviewer April 23, 2019