A FATAL GLASS OF BEER by Stuart M. Kaminsky


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 In the strangely prudent youth that preceded his misspent middle age, misanthropic funnyman W.C. Fields squirreled away sizeable chunks of his earnings in banks across the country, under such quaintly Fieldsian monikers as Otis J. Raisincluster and Cormorant Beecham III. But now some scoundrel calling himself Lester O. Hipnoodle has absconded with Fields's stash of bankbooks and is traversing this great land cleaning out the accounts, pausing only long enough to taunt the great man with mocking letters and phone calls. Determined to give Hipnoodle a run for his money, Fields engages Hollywood detective Toby Peters to accompany him on his race from Philadelphia to Ottumwa, Iowa, to Panguitch, Utah (with stops at lesser oases on the way), to beat Hipnoodle to the boodle. From Pennsylvania to the midwest, the crafty thief comes out one step and many dollars ahead by one clever ruse after another--but somewhere along the line he stops stuffing money into his suitcase and starts shooting, and by the time the curtain rings down, two people are dead, and Toby's lost one of his favorite appendages. Fields's blather is perfectly suited to Kaminsky's overgalvanized style, and the cross-country odyssey gets Toby away from the menagerie of friends-and-relations who've weighed down his last few outings. Toby's 20th (Dancing in the Dark, 1996, etc.) is cause for celebration, especially if Fields is paying.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1997
ISBN: 0-89296-630-0
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997


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