A cast of oddball characters scramble to get their hands on a copy of an actual lost Jerry Lewis film. The movie in question was made in the '70s but never released (perhaps because it features Jerry as a capering clown at Auschwitz). But the moment movie-trivia nut Roy Milano is offered a videotape of The Day the Clown Cried, he goes after it.

Then everyone—including a housebound "retired" comic (think Jerry Seinfeld), faded tennis superstar (think Bjorn Borg), drugged-out Hollywood producer (think Robert Evans), insane German actor (think Klaus Kinski), several enticing women, a police detective and a crazed killer in a white Honda—goes after him.

The action moves at a crazy clip from New York City to L.A. to Amsterdam to upstate New York, with stops in Maine and Philadelphia. The digs at Hollywood are fun, and the hero's habit of reciting movie trivia when he's nervous is not only endearing, it's informative. While the plot is little more than a series of strung-together vignettes and slapstick violence, it's still amusing. But this would probably make a better caper movie than a book. (Mar., 288 pp., $23.95)
Reviewed by: 
Liz French