HOODWINK by Paula Gosling


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Decidedly an oddity: a mingling of a two-family feud, which spans several generations, with a present-day contingent of cops who are only slightly less wacky than the Keystones. Upholding the slapstick portion is handsome, accident-prone cop Jake Chase, whose dinky murder assignment (the death of Fred Morris) evolves into: a mugging, a kidnapping, a torture session, a real-estate scam, a confrontation with Westlake-inspired goons in a Piggly Wiggly supermarket, a hotel demolition, and true love tooting at him from the seat of an old (not to mention buried) Packard. Assisting Jake in the crazy cops brigade is one Sylvester Crumb, ex-cop, current drunk, and W.C. Fields talk-alike. Together, with a few clues from an undercover FBI agent, they discover the murder victim's manuscript, which exposes old scandals involving Red Ned Porter and his heirs (the current mayor; his son, the corrupt city-planner) and Digger Lightfoot and his kith and kin (Gurney, the incapacitated current capo of Grantham; and his son, Rocky, a failed thug and the big brain behind Big Brain Industries, a thriving legitimate business enterprise). Jake stumbles--yes, literally--on clue after clue and falls--also literally--for editor/FBI agent Casey/Kathy; meanwhile, Sylvester wins over library-researcher Molly, a cop's widow, who unearths old papers concerning the death of Ariadne, missing from the Porter/ Lightfoot lives for years. Eventually, history is revised--both past and current--and Jake's dinky murder case isn't so dinky after all. Gosling should have written two books--one slapstick, one straight--because, here, the hybrid doesn't quite work. Still, though stylistically shaky, the plot is a dandy.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1988
Publisher: Doubleday