THE SCARED STIFF by Judson Jack Carmichael


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An insouciant little tale by Carmichael (pseudonym of “a best-selling author”) about an insurance scam that takes on a life of its own when a husband’s faked death leaves the unsavory element of his wife’s extended family clamoring for a piece of the action.

The high life for Barry and Lola Lee is not without its share of risk as they run one scam after another to finance it and barely stay ahead of their creditors. In a bind, Barry hatches a scheme that will take him to Lola’s South American homeland, Guerrera, where he will stage his accidental death and collect megabucks on his life insurance. The death itself—a spectacular swan dive off a cliff in a rental car, with a restaurant full of witnesses—goes off without a hitch, thanks to the participation of Lola’s brother and other relatives, but in the days afterward, with Barry holding new papers as Lola’s brother and in seclusion until the insurance settlement (and lonely, lusting after the wife of Lola’s black-market cousin), greed turns out not to be the Lees’ trait exclusively. Tipped off by a cousin, the vivacious Luz, that his life is in danger from yet another branch of the family, Barry accepts her offer of sanctuary—even though sexy-looking Luz leaves him with his tongue hanging. When the hideaway is compromised, though, Barry has to assume a third (or is it fourth?) identity and take a room at an exclusive resort catering to foreigners. There, he comes face to face with the insurance examiner sent to investigate his case, who doesn’t recognize him but tells him that the jig is nearly up. With Lola looking at jail time if the examiner succeeds, desperate times call for desperate measures—and Lola’s murder-minded cousins show up.

Irrepressible and incorrigible: a gleeful gallop through one escapade after another. The last may not have been heard from Carmichael.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7867-0954-5
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2001