THE TWENTY ACRE PLOT by Stephen F. Wilcox


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 Another entrant in the son-of-Raymond-Chandler sweepstakes as Wilcox--who can write a wonderfully crusty, wry turn-of-phrase- -introduces upstate New Yorker Elias Hackshaw, who, with his sister and brother-in-law, produces the weekly Triton Advertiser, including his muckraking opinion column. Here, he takes aim at unscrupulous land-developer Oscar Kasnen, convinced that the shopping-mall builder is behind old man Jenkins's death-leap from a barn loft. (Jenkins's heirs were all too eager to sell off his land to Kasnen.) Then Jenkins's lawyer is put into a coma; an Indian who may have been Jenkins's illegitimate son is murdered (mistaken identity); and Hack, to the chagrin of pedantic, poker- playing banker Kimble, discovers that Kasnen's short-term loan guarantee is about to fold. Meanwhile, the heirs want the will probated; a consortium of pro-Kasnenites have bypassed town-meeting policies; and an irate semi-driver is careening down the highway in pursuit of Hack (for fooling around with his wife). A complicated ending assigns murder in one direction, the coverup in another, for a tough, funny, original approach to the hard-boiled genre, and more proof that second-novelist Wilcox (The Dry White Tear) is a comer.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-05846-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1991


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