Ten years ago Jake Stonebender, his wife Zoey, daughter Erin, and many friends from New York moved down to Key West. Jake, Doc Webster, Long Drink McGonagle, Fast Eddie, and the others had to save the universe shortly after they arrived. Then Jake opened his bar, The Place, a block off Duvall Street, the main drag of the island.
Life has been going great since then. Since Erin was born a genius due to special circumstances at the time of her birth (something is usually happening with this group), Jake and Zoey have been officially home schooling her. Actually Erin learns through different teachers and methods. Erin can teleport herself. She can travel through time. Other people, like Nikola Tesla travel through time with her. Jake and Zoey are her parents, but not her education providers.
Trouble walks into The Place in the form of a state education inspector. This woman is part of the bureauracracy that the Stonebenders try to avoid. Now they have to prove Erin is getting a "proper" education. Then things got worse when a huge man decides that the local businesses need to pay for "protection". Tony Donuts, Jr., wants to join the Mob, and he sees Key West as his entrance fee.
The friends and patrons of The Place can't allow either of these dooms to Erin or The Place. The first thing they have to do is con Tony Donuts, Jr. If you're going to run a con on a man that big, it had better be good and had better be one that will have him on the run so he doesn't return to kill you. Then they'll figure how to have Erin take and pass the tests the State of Florida needs to verify her education and the fitness of her parents. But both of these tasks will need help from the group's special abilities.
The oldest friends in this book originally met at Callahoon's Saloon in New York. They have seen it all - time travelers, aliens, talking animals, and normal people with both abnormal and normal problems. The Place carries on the tradition of acceptance, friendship, and lack of direction. But when a crisis comes, they are ready. To the reader, like me, who has read almost all of the short stories and books, these people are old friends. It saddens me that I missed this when it first came out a few years ago. I was glad to be back in Callahan's universe again.
This novel is full of inside jokes and stories. These are both pulled from past tales of the group and from popular science fiction. Robert A. Heinlein is given his due, among others. The book is average - not as magical as the first short stories, and a little tired, but it still appeals to the fans of the series, like me. One of the major characters dies by the end of the book, and I'm still sad. Robinson explains a lot of the background for the first time Callahan reader, but it would still be easy to get lost if you haven't read the earlier stories and books.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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