THE BIG BOAT TO BYE-BYE

Ellis Weiner, Author . NAL $22.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-451-21396-9

Pete Ingalls, the PI throwback with the overdrive mind and tongue to match, takes on the sordid, violent world of puppetry in his second adventure with a Chandler-style title (after 2004's Drop Dead, My Lovely ). Weiner, a former National Lampoon editor, uses a rapid-fire technique that sprays gags and gimmicks—some wildly off-target, some dead-on—in a parody of the hard-boiled PI novel. The producers of PBS kids' show Playground Pals contact Ingalls because someone is blackmailing them with a stolen outtake of obscene puppetry. The ethnically diverse, uniformly bland puppets shed their inhibitions and shred their image on the film, which the thief promises to post on the Internet unless he's paid $1 million. Ingalls dresses the part of a 1940s PI (double-breasted suit with padded shoulders, ample pleated trousers, broad and stylish headwear) and speaks in the same outmoded fashion (pal, sugar, babe). Ingalls bumbles and thrashes his clueless way through the cutthroat world of performers, producers and creative geniuses composing the universe of children's television. Luckily for Ingalls, he's assisted by Stephanie Constantino, an aspiring actress who does some pretty talented sleuthing when she's not saving Ingalls from himself. Adding spice is a wonderful shaggy-dog story involving three women and a lost necklace. Agent, Paul Bresnick. (Mar. 1)

Reviewed on: 02/28/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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