17 January 2010

The Corpse Wore Pasties

The latest Hard Case Crime release is a fun and funny Westlakean romp through the bars, back alleys, and burlesque shows of--where else--NYC. A fellow by the name of Jonny Porkpie ("The Burlesque Mayor of New York City") gets the by-line and is also the main character. Jonny is a reluctant detective. He's the host of a burlesque show that features a faux-poisoning act. Only this time there's no faux--the perfomer ends up actually poisoned to death. Naturally our hero gets on the wrong side of the law and becomes Suspect No. 1. Much to the chagrin of his friends and loved ones, Jonny decides to solve the case on his own. He's a bumbler, naturally, but a determined and resourceful bumbler, and his attempts to piece the whole mess together and clear his name make for a lively and entertaining read. The women make up the best part of the book. A whole host of beautiful, smart, cagey, and scantily-clad femmes populate the pages of The Corpse Wore Pasties, and you can't help but like all of them, even the evil ones. There's Nasty Canasta (Jonny's wife in the story), Angelina Blood, Victoria Vice, Jillian Knockers, Eva Desire, Cherries Jubilee, Brioche à Tête. and LuLu LaRue. What's not to like? The book has a breezy style but is carefully plotted and well-paced with enough misdirection to keep you guessing until the end. My favorite scene involves Jonny hiding in a foam rubber zeppelin (a Hindenburg stage prop) while Cherries lies to the cops about his whereabouts and drops one-liners about "hot air" and "flight risk" and distracts the poor flatfoots with peeks at her uh, assets. Oh, the humanity! Like I said, Westlakean. Not many writers would get me to favorably compare their work to the grandmaster, so a tip of the porkpie to Jonny for a fine effort. Let's hope there's more from him in the future.

Oh, and how about that fabulous Ricky Mujica cover?

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