RING GAME by Pete Hautman


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 Funny, heartless Hautman overreaches himself in this fourth tale of feckless plotters who seem to have broken out of Hiaasen's South Florida and flocked to the Twin Cities. The prime mover of this round's shenanigans is Hyatt Hilton, who feels at 44 that he's got just one last chance to grab the brass ring. Despite his puppy-dog eagerness to try any scam--he was a founding partner of the Amaranthine Church of the One (ACO), and he now controls the local franchise for counterfeit Evian water--Hy's never scored big. But he plans to change his luck with his wedding to Carmen Roman, who's young enough to be his daughter and dumb enough to be his chia pet. Hautman won't say exactly what Hy's scam is, except that it involves phoning his old buddy Drew Chance, host of TV's Hard Camera; ducking out on his own nuptials; and getting revenge on Polyhymnia DeSimone and Rupert Chandra, the husband-and-wife sharpies who eased him out of ACO as they burnished their gospel of physical immortality. There's plenty to watch while you're waiting for Hy's wedding: the infighting between ACO Head of Security Charles (``Chuckles'') Thickening and ACO Security Chief Charles (``Chip'') Bouchet; the misgivings of Carmen's mother's swain Axel Speeter, who hires poker player Joe Crow (Short Money, 1995, etc.) to look into Hy's shaky bona fides; and Crow's struggles to work out at Bigg Bodies, where pumped-up Flowrean Peeche (she of the dead-goldfish necklace) spies on Joe and lecherous owner Arling Biggle spies on her. Here, though, the performers--many of them veterans of Crow's two earlier adventures or The Mortal Nuts (1996)--seem more interested in doing their reps, going through some peerless but static routines, than in moving the plot forward, and you're more likely to greet Carmen's big day with bemused impatience than with breathless anticipation. Effervescent yet inert, top-heavy with zanies afloat in their monumentally petty schemes. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-83242-9
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1997


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