'...An aging band on the verge, the Tall Poppies were still looking for their big break in the crapshoot known as the music business. So when their drummer was gunned down right in the middle of the video - and the murder caught on camera - they weren't too unhappy about seeing themselves on TV screens all around the world. Our heroine, Rachel Ganelli, self-confessed band moll (and witness to the shooting), had headed for Australia to escape a pending marriage, a mundane job, and her endlessly meddling parents. But finding herself on the perimeter of the murder, she heeds her mother's advice, just this once, and returns to New York, where life is more predictable. Or so she expects. Before she even has time to take a deep breath of city air, Rachel's sense of what really happened back in Australia spins wildly out of control - and Rachel's life right along with it....' (Slip cover of the American edition.)
Laurie Gwen Shapiro's unfortunately titled but endearingly quirky first novel, The Unexpected Salami ..., is a 1990's screwball comedy told in alternating chapters by two dysfunctional characters: a spoiled, neurotic, misanthropic New Yorker named Rachel Ganelli and her 'quasi boyfriend', Colin Dunforton, an ageing Aussie bass player. While in Australia, rooming with the members of a less-than-talented band called the Tall Poppies, Rachel witnesses the apparent mob execution of the Poppies' heroin-addicted ex-drummer, Stuart, during the shooting of a rock video. When she runs back to new York to escape questioning (which would have tipped off the authorities to her long-expired visa), she is astonished to find the dead man ordering a tuna on rye at Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop. It seems 'the hit' was staged by the band in order to boost its sagging fortunes. And the scheme works. In no time at all, Colin and the Tall Poppies have a recording contract with a major label and are booked to tour the United States. ... despite the risks, The Unexpected Salami winds up being unexpectedly delightful. Anthony Bourdain. (The New York Times (7 June 1998): BR22).