cover image Is Fat Bob Dead Yet?

Is Fat Bob Dead Yet?

Stephen Dobyns. Penguin/Blue Rider, $26.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-399-17145-1

Gold Dagger Award–finalist Dobyns’s genius for dark comedy makes this intricate crime novel a triumph that will appeal to Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen fans. An arch, omniscient narrative voice draws you in, setting the stage for a grim death in New London, Conn. A dump truck backs onto the street just as a motorcycle rider passes by, cutting him in half. The identity of the victim and whether the incident was an accident are initially mysteries. The tragedy allows gradual introductions of an eccentric but plausible cast of characters, starting with Connor Raposo, a visitor from San Diego, Calif., who witnesses the accident. Others include police partners who have an antagonistic relationship and a group of con artists who bilk the gullible by soliciting charitable donations for organizations such as the Holy Sisters of the Blessed Little Feet and Free Beagles from Nicotine Addiction. Dobyns (The Burn Palace) skillfully interweaves the various plot threads, such as the picaresque exploits of a homeless man named Fidget and threats to a resident suspected of being a federally protected witness. Frequent instances of wry humor and direct addresses to the reader are a plus. Agent: Phyllis Westberg, Harold Ober Associates. (Sept.)