BANJO BOY by Vince Kohler


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A dead giant pimp in lederhosen -- who lived in a gingerbread house, played the banjo, and collected X-rated fake Hummel figurines -- starts Oregon reporter Eldon Larkin's latest case off with a bang (so big a bang that he test-drives the junker he's looking at, a 1958 Isetta, off the used-car lot to check out the murder scene and ends up having to buy the sucker). Eldon (Rising Dog, 1992, etc.) and deputy DA Melissa Lafky agree that Archie Loris's interest in gambling got him killed by his old Chicago mob connections, but where do they go next? Back to Eldon's place, of course, where he'll cook her dinner, she'll teach him enough about poker to get him into a game at the Lucky Poke Saloon, and they'll confirm their strictly-business wager: She'll go to bed with him if he'll solve the case. With stakes like these to motivate him, Eldon careens around town like a runaway pinball, bouncing around among a Lucky Poke dealer called Chump (""The full moniker is Chump-Change. Don't forget it""); Lucky Poke piano player Gordon Clete, who on his nights off plays Mozart at the local New Age restaurant; topiary stylist Simon Blood, who helps him turn the Isetta right-side-up the first time it gives him a little trouble -- and sets him on the track of the murder weapon, a 12-foot homicidal shrubbery. Beneath the Monty Pythonesque details (a shrubbery?) lurks a sober enough tale of professional crooks taking care of their own. But it's the zillion zany grace notes that make this story, in the words of Eldon's professional mantra, such good copy.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1994
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's