When Doug Raymer, chief of police of the forlornly depressed town of North Bath, N.Y., falls into an open grave during a funeral service, it is only the first of many farcical and grisly incidents in Russo's shaggy dog story of revenge and redemption. Among the comical set pieces that propel the narrative are a poisonous snakebite, a falling brick wall, and a stigmatalike hand injury. North Bath, as readers of Nobody's Fool will remember, is the home of Sully Sullivan, the hero of the previous book and also a character here.
Self-conscious, self-deprecating, and convinced he's everybody's fool, Raymer is obsessed with finding the man his late wife was about to run off with when she fell down the stairs and died. He's convinced that the garage door opener he found in her car will lead him to her lover's home.
Meanwhile, he pursues an old feud with Sully; engages in repartee with his clever assistant and her twin brother; and tries to arrest a sociopath whose preferred means of communication are his fists. The remaining circle of ne'er-do-wells, ex-cons, daily drunks, deadbeats, and thieves behave badly enough to keep readers chuckling. The give-and-take of rude but funny dialogue is Russo's trademark, as is his empathy for down-and-outer.
Read the review in The May 7th Sunday New York Times.