Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rock and Roll

Bubba Mabry is a Mississippi-born private eye working in Albuquerque, just trying to scrape together a living and trying to avoid the family penchant for infamy. His mother, for instance, became famous as “the Jesus Lady in Nazareth, Mississippi”.  You see, in 1967, Eloise Cutwaller Mabry claimed that Jesus Christ himself would visit her kitchen… only it eventually turned out that Jesus was a crazy hippie living in the woods, although he answered only to the name of Jesus Christ and was confused about which Nazareth he found himself in.

With that kind of reputation running in the family, it’s understandable why Bubba would hesitate about relating this adventure to readers. You see, he was hired by a fat man named Buddy to act as a security guard for a famous celebrity, who is apparently being harassed by a fan. “Mr. Aaron” cherishes his privacy, Buddy tells him, and the pay will be excellent: $30 an hour. So Bubba gladly waltzes off to meet this Mr. Aaron… but he does a double-take when he finds out that Mr. Aaron is none other than Elvis Presley!

Yes, Elvis Presley has faked his own death, and so it’s quite understandable that he’d like to keep a low profile, hence the hiring of Bubba. So our gumshoe follows the suspect around, but things get very awkward indeed when the man is shot dead and Bubba discovers the body. Things only get worse. Bubba withholds the name of his client for obvious reasons from the police, but when he goes to check with his clients at their hotel, it turns out that Elvis has left the building, with no clues to his whereabouts. So Bubba must find the killer, clear his name, and do all this while shielding Elvis’ name from the cops. Then throw in a reporter who’s determined to prove Bubba’s guilt, another reporter who’s eager to use her body to get any information she can out of Bubba, and heck, how about another murder or two? And you get the plot of Lonely Street by Steve Brewer.

This isn’t a great mystery, in that it’s pretty obvious who the killer has got to be by a process of elimination—so-and-so is too important, this person is an obvious romantic interest, etc., and that leaves Character X as the only character with decent amount of screen time—i. e. a possible culprit. However, the plot is neatly worked out, with an interesting motive and excellent pacing throughout. We get plenty of action—not the exploding, Arnold-Schwarzenegger type of action, but manic comedic action—and the scenes whizz by pretty fast and are fairly enjoyable.

The comedy is pretty good. Some parts are a lot funnier than others, but a good level of comedy is sustained throughout the book, and it’s helped by the main character’s decency. Bubba is just a decent kind of guy. He’s easy-going, polite, hard-working, and, well, he just tries his best. He’s not perfect, but he tries, and that’s very appealing. He also gains a romantic interest later in the book, and the bantering between the two is plenty of fun to keep track of.

So in conclusion, Lonely Street is a fun read. It isn’t the best mystery I’ve ever read, but it was an enjoyable little romp, and I certainly have no regrets about the time I spent reading it.

1 comment:

  1. I just imagined having the chance to join Bubba Mabry and Dr Fell together for some Christmas brew... as far as fictional company goes, this would be tough to beat!