Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Here's a story that will make you smile.

Suppose Tom Sawyer lived today and instead of getting his friends to paint the picket fence, he sold them what they thought was collectible comic books but was only the covers with the inside hidden by a plastic shield.
"Drawing Dead" by Pete Hautman is a cleverly done story where two con men have a gimmick like this. They make a mistake in trading a number of these "collectible" comics to mobster, Joey C. (Joey Cadillac, IE Joesph Battagno).
One day Joey's girlfriend is bored and wants to read what is inside the Batman comic book. Joey refuses but when she keeps at it, he relents. What they find is blank pages. Joey is furious at being taken and sends his henchman, Freddy Wisnesky, after them to teach them a lesson.
The action moves to Minnesota where the Conn men have moved. Entering the story is Joe Crow, a former cop and recovering cocaine addict. Joe loves playing cards and his privacy.
Joe is hired by stockbroker and conniver, Rich "Dickie" Wicky to find out who his wife, Catfish, is having an affair with and then bribe the person to move away.
Joe comes into contact with Freddy Wishesky and Joe's car suffers for it. Now Dickie owes Joe some money but keeps stalling him. Joe has a friend and neighbor, Laura Debrowski who tries to help and when she meets up with Joey C. the outcome is not good.
With all of the Conn games going on, Joe and Laura decide to plan one of their own. They want to turn the table on Joey C. and the two comic book Conn men, Tommy Campo and Ben Fink.
Hautman does a fine job in describing the characters. Joe and Laura are unique in that you don't read of many former cocaine addicts who seem to be successful in building their life back. Dickie Wicky is similar to Danny DeVito in Elmore Leonard's "Smart Money." The crispy dialogue and humor are influenced by Leonard and Mark Twain.
Try it, it will put a smile on your face.

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