By Gene Lyons
July 26, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Mortal Nuts


The Mortal Nuts‘ Axel Speeter may be every bit of 73 years old, but he can still throw a hell of a punch. Settling into a dignified old age definitely isn’t part of his plan. Once a professional cardsharp, Axel prefers to keep his dough — all $260,000 of it — stashed in battered Folgers cans in his dingy room at the Motel 6. He runs the taco concession at the Minnesota State Fair — a much more complicated business than you might imagine, what with his main squeeze, Sophie Roman, and her sleazy, pill-popping daughter, Carmen, hanging around all the time. Things turn decidedly sour when Carmen and her whacked-out skinhead boyfriend — ”the Bald Monkey,” as Axel dubs him — set their sights on those treasured coffee cans. Pete Hautman — Minneapolis’ answer to Donald Westlake and Elmore Leonard — has delivered a taut, edgy plot filled with offbeat characters and a wicked, sardonic wit. A

The Mortal Nuts

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