DOUG SWANSON – House of Corrections. Jack Flippo #5. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, hardcover, 2000. Berkley, paperback, May 2001.

   Fifth in the series and unfortunately the last. Rather than repeat myself, for more about the author and some additional comments about the series and its leading character, you can do a lot worse than to see my review of Dreamboat, number two overall, posted here on this blog nearly fifteen years ago

   Some of which needs repeating, though. Before becoming a mostly unsuccessful PI,  Jack Flippo was an Assistant D.A. in Dallas. His boss back then is now retired but in trouble. He’s in jail, and he needs help. It seems he was driving a car belonging to his wife, was stopped for speeding, and the cops in a dump of town found a “smidgen” of heroin in the car.

   What he needs Jack to do is find his wife, who is off sailing somewhere in Galveston Bay. It sounds easy enough, and Jack owes the guy, and so he says yes, which as it turns out is a bad, bad mistake. Somehow the case is connected with the deaths of two drug dealers in the same small tank town as Luster, and guess what, the wife is proving harder to find than she should be.

   This is one of those books in which nobody, and I mean nobody, is telling the truth, sometimes two or times over. Flippo is also not the brightest bulb in the box, so it takes him a while to figure this out, and even then he always seems one step behind. What the author Doug Swanson is doing here is taking the most irreverent way of telling a PI story, shaking all the usual ingredients around, and seeing what comes out. Down and dirty is only half of it.

   It’s a rip-roaring of an ending, though. I wouldn’t mind seeing a movie made of this one. Maybe Robert Mitchum as Jack Flippo; Lance LeGault as Wesley; Cybill Shepherd as the wife; and Margot Kidder as the intrepid girl reporter anxious to make her mark in the world. It’s quite a mix, and it’s too bad the series ended with this one.