PETE INGALLS, the narrator of Drop Dead, My Lovely, Ellis Weiner's decidedly broad but loving lampoon of the private eye genre, is a thirty-three year old bookstore nebbish who suffers a serious whack on the kabonza. Before you can say "Don Quixote," he's set himself up as a shamus, complete with a fedora, an office, a business card of questionable taste, a foul-mouthed but surprisingly loyal secretary he calls "Doll" and not one but two count 'em, two actual cases, that soon have him knocking on (the wrong) doors and taking down (the wrong) names.
You see, Pete's problem isn't that's he's too tarnished or afraid to go down those mean streets, it's just that, well, he hasn't got a friggin' clue what to do once he's down there. And the end result, when one of his "simple" cases turns out to be anything but simple, is the stuff that comedic dreams are made of. Even better, Weiner, a former writer for Spy, The National Lampoon and The New Yorker, gives readers and his delusional dick an honest-to-goodness mystery to solve.
Okay, there are a few jumbo-size plot leaps here and there, some of the gags should really come with apologies or at least advance warnings, and the steady stream of off-kilter wisecracks threatens to swamp readers over the course of almost 300 pages but, as the affable and eternally optimistic Pete might say, make a mental note to yourself: read this book now and just enjoy it, and then figure it out later.
And if that doesn't do it for you,check out 2005's sequel, The Big Boat to Bye-Bye, wherein Pete further embraces his inner P.I., as he stumbles into anotther fine mess, this timeinvolving blackmail, murder and... puppets.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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