A Dollop of Toothpaste is the fourth book by singer, songwriter, actor and music historian Billy Vera. It is his first novel. In it, he uses his decades of experience in the often treacherous world of show business to tell the story of guitarist Johnny Santoro, his 98 year old uncle Nicky, head of the New Orleans Mafia, his best friend Pete Holman and Johnny's young lover Paulette de Saint Marie from the wealthy suburb of Old Greenwich, Connecticut.
Our futuristic tale begins on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and with the destruction of a major US city by enemies unknown and the hacking of the electrical grid in the nation's northeastern sector, causing chaos, looting and rioting. Uncle Nicky sees this dual tragedy as an opportunity to bring the mob back to its rightful place in US politics and seeks a partnership with Paulette's 33rd degree Freemason father in order to seat a President of his own choosing, as his colleagues had done in 1960.
Our story takes us from New Orleans to Italian East Harlem to Old Greenwich to the African-American and Southern Italian section of White Plains, New York. Along the way, we meet Louisiana Senator Antonino "Handsome Tony" Calabrese, East Harlem mob boss Vito Gennaro, as well as fictionalized versions of some well-known celebrities in an alternate universe that, at times, seems all too real and prescient. The reader will walk away, pondering whether German Nazis really do exist in South America or if there are actually extraterrestrial beings keeping a watchful eye on us, here on Earth?
This is a book filled with authenticity, from the music, the food, the dialects and in the locations rarely seen in other books. It is also about Love: of friends, of two unlikely lovers and the love of three very different families and how they converge. And, as in real life, there is always a touch of humor when least expected.