“…it’s a lousy time for Ian Racalmuto to have a crush on his best friend.”
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“Like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, if Simon’s mom were a vodka-soaked spy and grown assassins were trying to kill Simon.”
Fifteen-year-old Ian Racalmuto’s life is in ruins after an embassy raid in Algiers. His mother, a vodka-drunk spy, is dead. His brother, a diplomat, has vanished. And, he’s lost a cremation urn containing a smartphone that could destroy the world.
Forced to live with his cantankerous grandfather in Philadelphia, Ian has seven days to find his brother and secure the phone—all while adjusting to life in a troubled urban school and dodging assassins sent to kill him.
Ian finds an ally in William Xiang, an undocumented immigrant grappling with poverty, a strict family, and abusive classmates. They make a formidable team, but when Ian’s feelings toward Will grow, bombs, bullets and crazed bounty hunters don’t hold a candle to his fear of his friend finding out. Will it wreck their relationship, roll up their mission, and derail a heist they’ve planned at the State Department?
Like a dime store pulp adventure of the past, No Good About Goodbye is an incautious, funny, coming-of-age tale for mature teens and adult readers.
The airport baggage conveyor spun for twenty minutes while Ian and Mario caught up. Ian’s voice differed from his grandfather’s. His Italian was perfect, but his English fused accents learned around the world. He merged British and American dialects, rolled an occasional r, and mispronounced words. He hated his patois. Worse was that, like Mario, he flailed his hands when he spoke. Deena would sometimes say that to silence the two, she might cut off their arms.
“So let me get this straight,” said Mario. “Richard Finzel wants to start a war using codes on your mother’s smartphone.”
“Where is he now?”
“Dead. I triggered a bomb.”
“They recovered his body?” asked Mario.
“No, they found three of his teeth.”
“Teeth aren’t vital,” said Mario.
“Of course they are,” said Ian. “He won’t be able to chew things, and he’ll die.” He tilted his head. “Even if he survived and still wanted to start his war, he’d have to find mom’s phone and fly to D.C. to activate it. I hid the phone inside Aunt Judy’s funeral urn. Diplomatic security recovered it while I was in hospital. It’s out of my hands.”
“You’re certain they have it?” asked Mario.
“They said they would handle it,” said Ian.
“Shit,” Mario groaned under his breath. A blue suitcase appeared. “Ecco qua!” he said.
“No,” said Ian. “Mine has a Pan Am logo on it.”
Mario wheeled a cart toward them and stacked the bags Ian had pulled. A glittery tag on a steamer chest revealed his mother’s address in her script, and Mario’s eyes saddened. “You shouldn’t be the one to do this.”
“Someone has to,” replied Ian, “though I’d rather be with dad.”
“Algiers is too dangerous.”
“Algiers has always been too dangerous!” Ian erupted, throwing his hands up. Mario stepped back, surprised by the outburst. Ian lowered his voice. “Non voglio pensarci. Erik’s missing and dad’s sitting alone in a hotel room with a stuffed shirt convincing him he’s dead. I can hear the conversation now. Erik is gone. It’s a recovery, Cardiff, not a rescue. Little Ian has an undeveloped frontal cortex and uses denial to cope with grief.” He dug his hands in his pockets and settled back.
“Are you in denial?” asked Mario.
“I would deny it if I were,” said Ian. “I’ve developed the good sense to shut my mouth when adults think one way and I think another. Let’s discuss it, they say. Discussion only ever means debate. I’m sick of debating. I’ll say whatever people want me to say in public if it makes it easier to be who I am in private.”
“No man can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” Mario winked. “That’s Nathaniel Hawthorne. Bet you didn’t know that. In spycraft they call it the wilderness of mirrors.”
Ian waved the old man off. “Erik’s out there. I have, at best, seven days to locate him before the trail turns to ice. It’s not just about finding him—living with him abroad is the only way to get my life back on track. Philly is perdition. No offense, but I shouldn’t be here.”
The bag carousel stopped. Mario pointed to a stuffy office for lost bags, and Ian gathered his backpack.
Yes I want a sequel please!
I love this story. C.T. Liotta gives us action, villains, diversity, humor, and comeuppance for the bullies. Yay! There is everything to root for in No Good About Goodbye.
“I don’t like that you consider yourself ordinary, Will.” mumbled Ian. “It’s insulting to me. I don’t keep the company of ordinary people.”Loc. 2943
Liotta packs the story with diversity. I think the only category I did not come across was disabled or neurodiverse – though it is still early. We have only begun to chip away at the truths and lives of this fab Scooby gang part deux.
Once again: holy sugar this story is so good. I gobbled it down and Liotta left me hungry for more.
The writing is sharp and funny. There is darkness in this story, brutal darkness, but it fits. I cried during one scene because life just sucks sometimes and for Will he lives through one of the suckiest. I don’t know if I would have stopped as Ian did even if it was for a different reason. And I am so close to giving a spoiler that I am slowly backing away from this scene.
The mystery and action are commendable. I love how it fits together and some of the endings of some characters is a hoot and holler. Liotta provides so many twists and turns I thought about keeping a cheat sheet to see if who the bad guys are.
The side characters are amazing. Ian and Will alone would make this story, but then Liotta gives them a supporting cast that outshines any Mission: Impossible movie. I love everyone for their uniqueness and for what they bring to the table. I think one of the funniest scenes is when Ian and Will visit a museum of sorts and everyone is a part of the scene in their own way. There is also lots of creativity with how Liotta has all of them participate.
I cannot say enough about how much I love this book. I love the look of the cover. It does look like a dime store novel. The characters are memorable. The action scenes…I had to reread the motorcycle scene twice because it reads like a movie scene. Kudos. Then there is just Ian. I am so crushing on Ian.
Liotta is right, there is No Good About Goodbye, but I am really hoping for a sequel.
I received a free copy of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.
According to the Author a portion of the proceeds of this book goes to Mighty Writers. It is a non-profit “that teaches kids in Philly to ‘think clearly and write with clarity.'”
“As a Bookshop and Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.” at no additional cost to you.
CT Liotta was born and raised in West Virginia before moving to Ohio for college, where he majored in Biology. He now uses Philadelphia as his base of operations. You can find him backpacking all over the world.
Liotta takes interest in writing, travel, personal finance, and sociology. He likes vintage airlines and aircraft, politics, news, foreign affairs, ’40s pulp and film noir. He doesn’t fear math or science, and is always up for Indian food. His favorite candy bar used to be Snickers, but lately it’s been 3 Musketeers. He isn’t sure why.4
Publisher: Rot Gut Pulp, 978-1955394024, November 24th, 2021
Editors: Erin O’Connor and Minda Briley
Series: Standalone; Settings: Algiers and Philadelphia, PA, US
SC: Trans, Asian, Black, Latino