Problems raised by a "dead electric dog" open Barrett's second mystery, after Pink Vodka Blues . Max Coomer, the wealthiest man in Pharoah, Tex., finds his black Lab murdered in the back yard. With its jaw wired and a Walkman tied around its neck, the dog seems to be barking in unison with the tape that's playing. Joining the motley crowd of rednecks ogling the spectacle is town marshall Jack Track, who spent 14 years of his life with another name, another home, and another profession (Wayne, Vegas and killer, respectively) before returning to his hometown. Pretty soon Coomer is as dead as his dog, dressed in a football uniform and wired to look like he did when running for touchdowns as a high school hero. Jack, the dead man and a few others, including the victim's widow and Pharoah's sheriff, Deke Glover, went to high school together. Jack tries to piece together the puzzle with the help of his girlfriend Cecily, who owns a line of yogurt shops and isn't pleased at Jack's brief tryst with Max's widow, and his best pal Earl Murphy, a rich cantankerous black man who made a fortune on Wall Street. More murders lead Jack to a lunatic's private theater as the humor, coming as fast as the instantly orgasmic widow Coomer, plays at--but doesn't quite go over--the edge.
Max Croomer is the richest man in Pharaoh, Texas. When his dog is found dead in his backyard, jerryrigged to keep right on barking even as a corpse, the local citizenry, including temporary town marshal Jack Track, dismiss it as a sick prank by someone Max had offended. Shortly thereafter, though, Max gets a similar treatment--impaled on the high-school football field in his old uniform with his legs pumping and a crowd recording blaring over the PA. Meanwhile, Jack, who just got back to town and has a past he'd prefer not to reveal, is smitten with Max's widow, Millie, who has a daughter, Smoothy, who's 12, looks 20, and likes to go topless. And let's not forget Deke, the racist sheriff, and Earl, the only rich black man in town, both of whom have plenty of reasons to hate Max. Barrett, author of the very successful Pink Vodka Blues (1992), has hit pay dirt a second time, once again mixing a breezy, ironic narrative style with situations that are anything but funny. It's a roller-coaster ride to hell, and the guy in the next seat is crackin' wise.
Wish it could have lasted longer, quick read. Absolutely hysterical bunch of characters. Neat ending too!