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FICTION : PRIZZI'S FAMILY by Richard Condon (Putnam's: $17.95; 284 pp.).

November 16, 1986|Mark I. Pinsky

Charlie Partanna and Maerose Prizzi, the madcap and star-crossed lovers of "Prizzi's Honor," are back in a prequel. Herein we learn the details of the early and fiery romance between the streetwise, existentialist hit man and the don's granddaughter, explaining Charlie's unforgettably enthusiastic response in the movie when asked by Maerose if he wants a return tumble: "Oh, Maerose! Do I?!!!" And it's almost impossible to read the dialogue of "the environment" of the fratellanza without hearing the voices of Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston, which certainly doesn't diminish its entertainment value. Between his "zotzes," as Charlie calls his hits, there is more about Maerose's father Vincent, "a serious man with a face like a clenched fist and an attitude of barely controlled violence, as if one of Senor Wences' hand puppets had developed anti-social tendencies."

The plot, involving the rise of a Jerry Falwell-type mayoral candidate, is supposed to take place in 1969, but everything about it--including references to recently formed right-wing groups and Arnold Schwarzenegger--bespeaks at least a decade later. Nonetheless, this is a tasty morsel. In the words of Don Corrado Prizzi, "Have a cookie."

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