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MRS. MILLION by Pete Hautman

MRS. MILLION

By Pete Hautman

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-83243-7
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Hautman goes head-to-head against Carl Hiassen’s Lucky You with his own hilarious take on the larcenous lemmings that swarm around a lottery winner. Why shouldn’t sweet, tough, innocent Barbaraannette Quinn, the second-grade teacher who for years has been playing permutations of her relatives’ birthdays in Powerball, rake in an $8.9 million windfall? And why shouldn’t she impulsively decide, confronted by TV cameras outside the lottery office, to offer a million-dollar reward for the return of her husband Bobby? After all, Bobby’s not exactly estranged, he’s just been AWOL for six years. And now, living as boot salesman Bobby Steele with voluptuous, good-natured Phlox Anderson in Tucson, he gets wind of his wife’s offer within seconds and decides to turn himself in for the reward, figuring he’ll put off worrying about what he’s going to do about the women in his life till after he’s got the greenbacks in his hand. But more pressing complications ensue. Reaching his hometown of Cold Rock, Minnesota, Bobby’s immediately spotted by ethereally beautiful, deeply sociopathic con man Jayjay Morrow, who’s happy to interrupt his routine of writing lying, cadging letters to celebrities and sponging off his latest admirer, the besotted Professor AndrÇ Gideon, to kidnap Bobby and hold him for ransom. Feisty Barbaraannette, the daughter of Hautman semi-regular Sam O’Gara (The Mortal Nuts, 1996, etc.), doesn’t take this development lying down. And neither does Phlox, or Barbaraannette-smitten bank officer Art Dobbleman, or those Henry High ex-football players Hugh Hulke and Rodney Gent. You can try to imagine what sorts of things happen next, though you’ll be two steps behind Hautman. If Hautman’s line-by-line writing is less joyously baroque than Hiassen’s—and it’s an awfully close race—his powers of invention and dexterity are even greater as he provides delightfully unexpected roles for Jayjay, Phlox, Gideon, and Barbaraannette’s senile mother Hilde Grabo.