Even the Butler Was Poor

Ron Goulart, Author
Ron Goulart, Author Walker & Company $18.95 (152p) ISBN 978-0-8027-5772-2
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
Wisecracks and repartee are the only distinctive elements of this otherwise quotidian yarn. As an ambushed Rick Dell lies dying in a Connecticut shopping mall, he utters ``ninety nine clop clop'' to former girlfriend H. J. Mavity, a painter of romance novel covers. If she interprets this deathbed clue correctly, H.J. could retrieve the $5000 Dell owed her--or find something to sell that might fetch an equivalent sum. H.J. turns for help to her radio announcer/voice imitator ex-husband, Ben Spanner. Ben recognizes the cryptic message as part of a hoary joke, and when he suggests that she search the hollowed leg of a ventriloquist's dummy, he becomes a reluctant but stalwart partner in the scheme to track down Dell's killers without informing the police. Although the divorced couple dig up hurtful episodes from the past, such as H.J.'s infidelity, they call a truce while they unravel the mystery. But even Ben's calm nature can't offset H.J.'s recklessness, which leads to interaction with a group of blackmailers. Goulart ( A Graveyard of My Own ) knows how write danger into a scene, but H.J.'s unidimensional personality only exacerbates the predictability of the plot. (Dec.)
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