From Publishers Weekly
Barris (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
) misses the mark with this grating attempt at whodunit parody. Heir to millions, Arthur Art Deco Jr. wants nothing to do with his father's mammoth company, Kentucky-based Deco Industries, preferring to hobnob in Manhattan. So when he falls in love with wannabe actor Eddie Cotton and gleefully announces to his father, Arthur Deco Sr., that he's gay, it doesn't sit well with Deco Sr. or the rest of Art's Southern family. When Art is discovered shot in his apartment, the police are quick to call it a suicide and avoid a high-profile investigation. But then Jimmy Netts, a former podiatrist-turned-unlicensed-PI from Philadelphia, recently relocated to Bowling Green, Ky., hits the scene, hired by Deco Sr. to look into Art's death and prove it was murder. Netts gets most of his investigative techniques from old episodes of Homicide
, but manages to bumble along, thanks to the help of two unbelievably cooperative NYPD detectives, finally stumbling upon the underwhelming truth. Unfortunately, Barris's characters are one-dimensional stereotypes, and the sophomoric humor is, well, very sophomoric. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The latest novel by the author of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (1982) and The Big Question (2007) is a three-in-one literary satire, lampooning simultaneously the murder mystery, the private-eye novel, and the family drama. Outrageous, yes, but readers would expect nothing less from the man whose memoir claimed he was a CIA assassin and whose previous novel posited a ruthless (yet oddly plausible) game show. The wealthy murdered man, Arthur Deco, Jr.; the prime suspect, Art’s spurned gay lover; and the private eye, Jimmy Netts, are drawn with broad strokes, like characters in one of Woody Allen’s New Yorker essays, and they are all very funny. The story is labyrinthine, as befits a murder-mystery spoof (fans of S. J. Perelman will be pleased), and Barris’ portrayal of the victim’s uniformly eccentric family reads like a spoof of P. G. Wodehouse, if it’s possible to spoof a spoofer. Barris, who gained early fame as the creator of such television fare as The Gong Show, is a wildly inventive writer whose imagination takes him, and us, to some very strange and entertaining places. --David Pitt