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From Publishers Weekly
Dunbar's (Delta Time) first novel is less a mystery-the murder occurs at the halfway point and is witnessed by the reader-than a deliciously witty caper through the idiosyncratic landscape of New Orleans, where crickets sing in the weeds that grow up through the curbs and St. Patrick's Day paraders toss crawfish and potatoes from floats. Tubby Dubonnet is a lawyer who likes fishing, beer and off-track betting. His clients include a cross-dresser referred by the very doctor he's suing for a botched skin-creolizing, and a lakefront bar owner who has held on to a nearly $1 million payoff after a shrimpboat marijuana bust. The bar owner hands over the money locked in a gym bag to Tubby, then is murdered, leaving behind a death scene portrayed with jarring comic understatement. Tubby grapples with the temptation of riches and the threats of claimants, and, as he sorts out the rogues from and among the buttoned-downs, he dispatches the villain and finds a home for the cash in a conclusion that's as cleverly convoluted and amusing as the rest of this tale, the first in a projected series. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Best known for his nonfiction work (e.g., Delta Time: A Journey Through Mississippi, LJ 7/90), Dunbar creates a lighthearted, fast-moving, comic mystery with New Orleans lawyer and epicure Tubby Dubonnet as the hero. One would think that Tubby's professional life is interesting, given his involvement with a transvestite/entertainer client who's suing for a botched skin-darkening operation (he was referred to Tubby by his doctor, the defendant!). Alas, Tubby finds himself in possession of a gym bag full of cash that may be tied to a drug-deal-gone-sour murder. There are certainly others who will stop at nothing to obtain the bag. Are they underworld or are they from the "right" side of the law? In this well-written, entertaining first novel, Tubby's luncheon menus are as engaging as the plot. Highly recommended for public libraries. Heather Blenkinsopp, Mercy Coll. Lib., Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About 30 percent into this book in my Kindle, I thought, "OK, the main character's charming, but where's the mystery?" I decided I was interested enough in all the characters to give the book a little more time, and I was glad I did.
This isn't a fantastic book, but it's a pretty enjoyable one. It captures New Orleans and its corruption and good ole boyness quite well. I thought Tubby Dubonnet was a pretty likeable character who was realistic when you consider New Orleans culture. And the rest of the characters? Most were offbeat and charming in their own way.
I'd equate this to a Hamish MacBeth novel by M.C. Beaton. You read them because you find the entire cast quirky and fun, not because the mystery's hard-hitting and fast paced. And after a while, you realize you've read nearly all of the series.
Shortly before being murdered, one of Tubby Dubonnet's many shady clients gives him a gym bag for safekeeping. After his client's demise, Tubby opens the bag and finds (surprise!) a large stash of cash. While he's deciding whether to turn the money in to the authorities or just keep it for himself, drug dealers try to persuade/coerce Tubby to give them their money back. Intertwined with this plot are several quirky characters and a glimpse of New Orleans' seedier side.
Since Mr. Dunbar has written quite a few mysteries, I tried this one to see if he might be an author I would like. But if this book is representative of his work, I don't feel inclined to read more. The story was slow-moving and not very interesting to me. I could not identify with any of the characters, and the mystery revelation at the end left me disappointed. The story line was similar to Carl Hiaasen's novels, which I have also crossed off my list as being too bizarre.
I read a lot. And I find that a lot of writers with some talent and work publish a lot of forgettable stuff, as well as a lot of stuff simply not worth reading. Poorly-drawn characters, clumsy plots, awkward narrative trying to populate clumsy plots with those 2-dimensional characters so they work; they rarely do. So I sigh & within a day or two, forget the whole sad experience. I tell you that his because when I find an exception to this, it is extremely satisfying. When I pick up a book and keep reading "just a little more," when I find it is 3 a.m. And my eyes are closing but I want to keep reading because the story and how it is told are just so GOOD. These characters seem real but not predictable. This plot turns and twists but never goes off the rails. On finishing this book, I feel fully satisfied, yet hate for this excellent tale to end. This book, this author: they're the good stuff. It flows so well, so smoothly, but you know it takes true writing talent to make something so hard look so easy.
Start off by saying I enjoyed this book. Bought it around lunchtime and finished it before dinner, while taking time off to visit with relatives.
So, engaging read. Cool plot, nice twists. Enjoyable characters, even if most of them were not investigated very deeply. But this is a caper, not a psychological drama.
The story has some elements that make it seem like it happened a long time ago--the characters sometimes talked on car phones, and attention was paid to the fact that airlines never checked the names of passengers...Well, since 9/11, they do. (I'd like to see what the author would do with this plot under modern circumstances. The lack of ID for passengers was important to the story. How could that be handled today?)
An ongoing problem had to do with the formatting. Scenes changed suddenly, and it slowed me down, having to go back and check which characters are interacting--usually I caught this when the characters I *had* been reading suddenly behaved oddly. Checking names again, I found that the author had switched scenes on me without giving me any indication of same. In a paper book or manuscript, the scene change would be signaled by a white space. Maybe that can't be done in ebooks. If that's the case, the reader would appreciate a trio of asterisks between scenes. Just don't leave me behind when you zip off to another coffee shop or whatever and pick up a conversation with characters I've never met or have let drift to the back of my mind.
There's some violence here, and for the most part it's fine--characters doing what you already knew they were capable of. But when Tubby gets tough, I'd like to have more emphasis on it. For a guy like Tubby to do what he did to the guy with the scar, for instance, well, THAT'S BIG and it should get some respect. The reader should feel the out-of-character-ness of the event, and I didn't really.
I enjoyed the voice, and, after I got used to the authorial asides, was able to swing with those, too.
Hard boiled? More like soft-boiled, but enjoyable. Tubby still has some hope for humanity, or at least for bits of it. He ain't Marlowe quite yet.
The following review was not anyway influence by the manner that I received the copy. I am not a proof reader or editor. I judge the book on whether I like it or didn’t like it.
Not sure if this is a mystery or an adventure. However I am sure that our main character, Tony Dunbar, thinks it is a mystery; or maybe another day to enjoy New Orleans and all it has to offer.
For example there is Jynx Margolis who adds a little spice to Tony’s life; at least Tony hopes she will. Then there are Monique and Darryl who run the Champ Bar & Grill. At least they did until Darryl came into the position of a strange duffle bag. It seems that the duffle bag is cursed.
If you knew “Tony like I know Tony”; wait a minute that is an old Eddie Cantor song. What I mean is, that as usual. Tony comes into possession of this cursed bag and the fun begins. Tony disposes of several wide collar goons as he races to the conclusion of this mystery/mystery. After the surprising end to this tale Jynx shows up to add that special spice that only she can deliver.
This is not one of those wine cellar books however a gin & tonic and a stack of shrimp Po’Boys would be appropriate when you read this Four Star Book.