Unlikely alliances form in a plot to neutralize an author's greedy former agent.
After two armed thugs enter and shoot the fish aquarium in Manhattan’s Clownfish Café, writer Cindy Sella, a Manhattanite from a small town in Kansas, and hit man Karl leave with souvenir clownfish they helped rescue. While Karl and his colleague Candy consider a contract to off the literary agent L. Bass Hess, Candy leafs through Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, and Karl sets up his clownfish in the converted warehouse he shares with Candy. Although Karl kills people for a living, he’s happy to redecorate the apartment to provide a more appropriate environment for his fish—and to join Candy in helping Cindy extricate herself from a baseless lawsuit that Hess, her former agent, has brought against her. Mega-selling author Paul Giverney has his own reasons to rid Manhattan of Hess. To further his elaborate schemes, he calls on, among others, an abbot with a dubious religious vocation, an amiable stoner, the legendary Skunk Ape, Bass’ uncle-turned-aunt, Candy, Karl and Karl’s fish. As one caper follows another, from Manhattan to Sewickley, Pa., to the Everglades, Cindy loses her importance to the conspirators.
Grimes (Fadeaway Girl, 2011, etc.) brings a crazy-quilt sensibility to a romp that ultimately sags a bit under the weight of its own cleverness. Despite its pallid heroine, however, this sendup of the book world, in which hit men apparently have more integrity than publishers, is great fun.