ART BOURGEAU – A Lonely Way to Die. Claude “Snake” Kirlin & F. T. Zevich #1. Charter, paperback original, 1980.

   If the setting is even minimally important to you when it comes to choosing what work of detective fiction to read next, there are of course hundreds of options available to you. Los Angeles and the Big Apple don’t have a universal monopoly on locations to choose from. It may just seem that way.

   Take Cannibal Springs, Tennessee, for instance. It’s located about halfway between Nashville and Chattanooga. I didn’t look it up on the map, but even if there is such a place, I’m not no sure that anyone has bothered to tell Rand McNally about it.

   Snake Kirlin and F. T. Zevich area couple of good ole boys, just out of the Marines and back in Snake’s hometown, looking for fishing holes and other fine memories of his youth.

   An alternative title for this book might have been The Hardy Boys Get Laid.

   The jokes are crude, pointed, funny, and old. According to F. T., as the two heroes prepare to investigate the death of the hairdresser’s assistant by rattleless rattlesnake poisoning, “When you eliminate all the shit, whatever you’re left with has got to be it.”

   All devout Sherlock Holmesians, please take note.

   My mistake, and don’t let it be yours, was in thinking that this was a detective story. Wrong. The clues lead nowhere, the deductions are a waste of time, and the pistons don’t work either. It sure was fun to read, though, and I’ll probably read their next adventure, if the fates be so kind, but even tied up in a gunny sack with a a typewriter in a dark room, I don’t think there’s one of us who couldn’t come up with a better job of working out a real mystery to go with all the good buddy fooferaw.

–Reprinted in slightly revised form from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 4, No. 5, Sept-Oct 1980.

       The Claude “Snake” Kirlin & F. T. Zevich series —

A Lonely Way to Die. Charter 1980
The Most Likely Suspects. Charter 1981
The Elvis Murders. Charter 1985
Murder at the Cheatin’ Heart Motel. Charter 1985