An Indiana artist looks into a teen’s suspicious death in Kaiser’s (Joseph’s Easel, 2016, etc.) mystery/comedy.
In 2004, world-famous artist Javi Attila Gran-Cognac lives and works in a junkyard in Ak-wy-yeth, Indiana, churning out paintings with political themes. When county police deputy David Cooper guns down high school senior Billy Redcrow, Javi’s friend and landlord, Andra Duboreaux, wants Javi to look into it. Billy was friends with Andra’s 15-year-old adopted daughter, Culture, for whom Javi acts as a father figure. It turns out that Cooper had been using a nanny cam as a makeshift body camera during the shooting. The sheriff confiscated the footage, however, and Culture believes that the cops plan on digitally altering it to show a gun in Billy’s hand. She and Javi set about proving that such a deception is possible. Meanwhile, Javi’s ex-lover Mary Jean Kruegerrand is the new head of the shady cartel that runs the town; she needs Javi’s help, as well, as she’s trying to make the Kruegerrand empire legitimate, and she’s facing some serious push back. There’s little mystery in this crime tale; readers find out early on, for example, that Billy wasn’t armed. However, Kaiser does offer plenty of humor, including several quirky character names and relationships; for instance, the story later introduces Biloxi Ikenickle, Javi’s old grade school principal who’s now a private eye. The author treats the shooting itself with appropriate respect, but many other events are occasions for comedy, as when the sheriff makes a public statement about withholding the video footage: “The sheriff was short, and his head barely protruded above the podium. He nervously bent the mike down another inch.” Despite references to real-life 2004 events, including the Summer Olympics and the presidential election, much of the technology mentioned is anachronistic; for example, the software Adobe Creative Cloud wasn’t commercially available until 2011.
A leisurely but lighthearted caper with delightfully zany characters.