TOPLESS TULIP CAPER by Lawrence Block

TOPLESS TULIP CAPER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Under the "Chip Harrison" pseudonym, Block (The Burglar in the Closet, etc.) published four paperback novels in the early 1970s--all of them recounting the mild, comic sex/suspense exploits of smirky adolescent narrator Chip. In this 1975 outing (first time in hardcover), Chip has become the assistant to fat, fame-hungry N.Y. detective Leo Haig, playing a very un-subtle Archie Goodwin to Haig's Nero Wolfe. So the Rex Stout allusions soon proliferate when Haig takes on the case of Tulip Willing (n‚e Thelma Wolinski), a stripper/biologist whose precious experimental fish have been poisoned. (Instead of orchids, Haig dotes on tropical fish.) Whodunit? Is the fish-killer the same villain who then murders Tulip's colleague/roommate, Cherry Bounce, with a poison dart (mid-strip)? Chip quizzes all the suspects, finds another couple of corpses, and--partly to please his paperback editor--allows himself to be seduced at regular intervals. ("'We're not in the business to sell books,' he said. 'We're selling hard-ons.'") But all the glory, of course, belongs to reclusive Haig--who gathers all the characters together at his town house for the clue-by-clue wrapup and the final ho-hum revelations. Routine as mystery, dated as satire, and a lot less funny than Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr series--but a quick, breezy, mildly fetching parody/hommage for Wolfe aficionados.
Pub Date: June 30th, 1985
ISBN: 0451187997
Page count: 276pp
Publisher: Schocken
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1985




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