Crazy-quilt tale of a doughnut heir with a hole in his head, by the author of Life in the Rainbow (1996).
Doughnut magnate Joseph Siconski, dead at 74, leaves the bulk of his multimillion-dollar estate to daughter Mary and older son Charlie, the former generally regarded as being several cards short of a full deck, the latter unseen by any family member for five years. Charlie's disappearance remains a mystery, but younger brother Leslie's disappearance from the patriarch's will is no great surprise: father and son had grown to detest each other. Unexpectedly, however, Leslie turns up at the funeral and lingers with Mary and her husband, Colin Gallagher, for a few days afterward. Though his recent past is enigmatic to say the least, Leslie in the flesh proves an affable sort, and the visit is so congenial that the Gallaghers entertain notions of parceling off some of their largesse on Leslie's behalf. Then suddenly there's a phone call from the tiny town of Baraboo in the northern reaches of Wisconsin, after which nothing is the same. Detective McNutt reports that he thinks he's found Charlie's body. Off goes Leslie on a journey that plunges him into a kind of Never-Never Land where identity is certainly a sometime thing. Charlie's identity, for instance: some remember him as an accomplished amateur circus clown; others worshipped him as a Native American god. Perhaps he was both. Or conceivably neither. Leslie takes charge of his brother's body, subsequently finds his hidden journals, and learns that the surprising, underestimated Charlie loved three beautiful women, fathered two children, and was murdered by Buffalo Bill Cody. Or not.
An intermittently amusing pastiche by a talented writer trying too hard this time out.