Crime and taxidermy collide in this zany, zestfully told tale. Sublime comic storyteller Wiprud sets his mystery in a fictional New York City "retro" subculture, full of zoot-suited hipsters, swing-loving horn players and other eccentric city dwellers.
Taxidermy buff Garth Carson gets pulled into the retro underground scene while hunting down a stuffed puppet, Pipsqueak the Nutty Nut. Garth wants Pipsqueak because he's a childhood touchstone. Others want him for far more nefarious reasons. Soon, the murder victims are piling up. When Garth's estranged brother is beaten bloody, the squabbling siblings team up. Then the joint really starts jumping.
Quirky characters, slapstick situations and clever writing full of sharp visual images make this novel a thrill a minute. Garth is offbeat, earnest and romantic. Plus he's got a knack for solving puzzles, particularly the one at the center of this well-drawn, tightly executed story. (Jun., 340 pp., $6.99)