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by Tony Dunbar

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 1997
ISBN: 0-399-14184-7
Publisher: Putnam

Some people are always ready to jump to conclusions. The cops who arrest Cletus Busters for murder are prejudiced against the Moskowitz Memorial Lab custodian just because he'd quarreled with Dr. Whitney Valentine, and because he practiced voodoo, and because when he opened a closet door he had no business messing with, Dr. Valentine's frozen corpse fell out, leaving its head broken off in Cletus's hands. Luckily, Cletus's sozzled pro bono lawyer, Mickey O'Rourke, has the wit to seek out Tubby Dubonnet as co-counsel. Tubby uneasily obliges, even though it'll mean time away from his suit on behalf of schoolteacher/boxer Denise DiMaggio, whose Uncle Roger is disclaiming her shares in the family business, and from Tubby's ever-expanding circle of drinking buddies. None of this adds up to much in the way of mystery, and purists may feel insulted when Tubby trots out the widow's current comforter and the late Valentine's own inamorata as if they were supposed to fool us, or when he wraps up Denise's lawsuit with a single phone call. (A few scenes showing a shady pair of plotters trying to mop up the fallout from the Valentine killing are interpolated for the sake of readers who can't stand the suspense of wondering whether Cletus really is guilty.) Fans of jocular Tubby (City of Beads, 1995, etc.), though, will drink up the convivial New Orleans atmosphere, and the spectacle of a lawyer whose co-counsel declines to examine a witness because his doctor's ordered him to avoid conflict.