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One-Eyed Mack is back: the innocent outlaw of that winsome picaresque Kick the Can (1988) is now, in the early 70's, Lieutenant-Governor of Oklahoma, defending his state against calumnies spread by TV network news. Even though he has a four-figure salary and a staff of only two, Mack is happy as a clam in his dream job, cutting ribbons, especially when the ribbons belong to Jackie-Marts, the drive-thru supermarkets pioneered by his wife Jackie. For Mack is now a devoted family man, spending long hours offering support to stepson Tommy Walt, whose pitching career in semipro ball is dying a slow, painful death. But when CBS Justice Department correspondent Archibald Tyler "discovers" a new, Oklahoma-based organized-crime group, and the Governor, Buffalo Joe--busy with his pet project to "crown Oklahoma" by putting a dome on the capitol--delegates Mack to prove the allegation is a "crock," he finds himself at the center of a political storm. With the help of C., the one-eared director of the OBI; Brother Walt, "the Greatest Holy Road Preacher in Southeast Oklahoma"; and his father, a Kansas state trooper, Mack thwarts Tyler's plan to achieve notoriety by hoodwinking his network with a made-up story; much fun is had by all, though the high jinks briefly threaten to get serious when an endearing country bus-driver is blown to bits by an out-of-state mafioso. Lehrer (co-anchor of public television's McNeil/Lehrer News Hour) has written a sequel that is every bit as genial as Kick the Can, though with less content; the premise here is thin, and Tyler never quite jells into a credible character--but that warm narrative voice, with its affection for American folkways, just about saves the day.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1989
ISBN: 1571780408
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1989


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