Yet another struggling businessman with romance in his heart and felony dogging his footsteps.
Talk about your cosmic justice. The day Nick Fashon finds out that his grandfather, reclusive inventor Caleb Hardy, has been found dead, his body nibbled by coyotes, is the same day that Love & Fashion, his clothing store, has burned to the ground, together with Nick’s uninsured apartment, his nine pairs of Bally shoes, and his collection of 500 Motown records. “Caleb had lost his life, but his stuff was okay. Nick had lost his stuff, but he was alive. Now he had new stuff,” muses the survivor, whose inheritance seems limited to Caleb’s crackpot prototypes—the Inch-Adder, the Comb-n-Clean, and all the rest of their uncommercial ilk. One item, though, seizes Nick’s fancy: the HandyMate, a kitchen gadget that slices, dices, and does everything else. Bent on bringing the enchanted chunk of plastic to market, Nick swiftly finds that although the HandyMate’s seized other fancies too—especially that of Caleb’s girlfriend Yola Fuente, the restaurateur who, claiming half ownership in the thingamabob, is determined to introduce it on her cooking program and run off with the proceeds—it leaves his impecunious partner, Vincent Love, cold, and stirs up nothing but trouble for Nick’s ladylove Gretchen Groth (Archaeology/Univ. of Arizona), whose demand that he not raise seed money from her ex-cop father Bootsie are matched by Bootsie’s demand that he take the money and make them both rich. A slippery insurance agent, a Tucson arson investigator, and an excitable loan shark are all on hand to drag Nick deeper into trouble.
Since Hautman has excelled in both fairy tales and comic nightmares (Rag Man, 2001, etc.), he’s just the craftsman to plunk his appealing hero into the middle of a tale so finely balanced that it could go either way right up to the end.