Croaked!

Dick Lochte, Author Five Star (ME) $25.95 (385p) ISBN 978-1-59414-525-4
The ""masculine pleasure principle"" is supposed to rule the Los Angeles-based magazine Ogle, a Playboy imitator, but there's more goring than scoring in this hammy period thriller set in 1965 from Nero Wolfe Award-winner Lochte. After only a week on the job as an advertising promotions copywriter at Ogle, Harry Trauble begins to realize just how dysfunctional the organization is when studly circulation director Nick Hobart is crushed to death by a statue of the magazine's mascot (a frog), which mysteriously tumbles off the building's facade. Amid already high levels of fear and paranoia afflicting the staff, Harry and his girlfriend, redhead receptionist Terry O'Mara, suspect Hobart's death was no accident-a suspicion confirmed as more bodies pile up. Lochte (Sleeping Dog) strives for a style approximating the pulpiest of mid-'60s quickie paperbacks, but the combination of hackneyed dialogue, by-the-numbers plot twists, whimsical names (e.g., Florence Proneswagger), and characterization no deeper than a coat of cheap paint deflate the fun.
Reviewed on: 04/02/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
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