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Who Killed Art Deco?: A Novel Paperback – June 2, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

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)
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From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 243 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Original edition (June 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416575596
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416575597
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,904,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth A. Dale on July 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
Chuck Barris Fans - Take Art Deco to the beach

Those of us who are lifelong fans of Chuck Barris will find Who Killed Art Deco to be the icing on the cake in his prolific career. He draws you inside the character's personas, paints backdrops that are perfect accompaniments to the story and weaves a tale that makes one not want to put the book down.

It is a love story, a satire, a comedy, a mystery, a commentary on modern life and a fun read for any sunny beach.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Quixote010 VINE VOICE on September 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
It started out with a-fixing a permanent smile to my face.

When I got to page 23, the line: "Eddie Cantelone was a twenty-five-year old lying, sleazy scuzzbag" brought about my first out-loud chuckle.

By the time I was a third of the way into the book, the people at the next table were giving me weird glances. By halfway, the task of holding back the tears and trying to stop my sides from heaving were too much so I had to go home. That's Chuck Barris.

Of course Chuck has always made me laugh, even when he isn't writing, but Who Killed Art Deco is bound to please everyone. Art Deco Jr. is the reluctant heir of Deco Industries who despises his father, his siblings, and everything about his wealthy lifestyle. To compensate, he undertakes the bohemian lifestyle in New York and engages a variety of misfits, any of whom could be responsible for his demise. Seeking vengeance, Deco senior persuades a novice investigator to find the killer. And as Chuck would say, the chuckles keep coming.

Besides being entertaining, the book is easy to read, has an interesting little mystery connected in it, and a variety of characters who he develops just enough so that you can structure a fine superficial opinion about them.

I suppose to really appreciate Barris you have to see life from his point of view, and from his point, there are a lot of funny, misfit people and situations in the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KSC on June 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
What a wonderful read; funny, engaging, a bit of a mystery but nothing scary, and a sordid tale thrown in for good measure. The family of Art Deco is a cast of curious characters. His life and ultimate death leads the reader on a fantastic journey. I just wish Barris would write more books like this!
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By Karen with a Kindle on July 25, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great read! A fast-moving mystery with snappy dialog and classic Chuck Barris humor that had me chucking out loud. Wonderful and consistent character development -- you KNOW these people. Interesting plot with just enough (but not too many) twists. I finished it in one sitting with ease, just couldn't put it down.
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