Wit and wisdom meet in the sweet howl of Wylie Coyote

I Don’t Like Where This Is Going, by John Dufresne. Norton. 256 pages. Hardback $25.95.

Wylie Coyote is back, the original and highly engaging character readers met in “No Regrets, Coyote” (2013, reviewed in these pages). The publisher is uncertain about whether to use the phrase “A Wylie Coyote Novel” or “A Wylie ‘Coyote’ Melville Novel.” Me, I don’t care. I just want more. I like where this is going. Wonderfully wacky, and yet suspiciously sane, this is hoot noir – a new subgenre. IDONTLIKEWHERETHISISGOING_978-0-393-24468-7

Plot may not be its main interest. When Mr. Dufresne provides in his Acknowledgments a “thanks to Jill Bialosky for finding the story in the manuscript,” one can take it as a kind of confession. There’s something jazz-like in Dufresne’s thought process and prose, an improvisational wizardry of the highest order. Pyrotechnics, puns, and even a bit of prophesy. When South Florida meets Las Vegas, anything can happen. You can forget about who killed two young women and still have a wonderful – though frequently disorienting – experience.

Wylie and his good friend Bay Lettique have left home for a while. Things have become uncomfortable in Melancholy, Florida; mobsters are after them. Wylie is a therapist turned sleuth; Bay is an illusionist – sleight of hand his specialty – and a gambler. Soon after arrival in this mecca of delusion and corrupt values (their first stop is the Luxor), Bay gets to work in the casino and – once they are moved into a proper longer-term residence – Wylie volunteers at the Crisis Center.

The precipitating event happened back at the Luxor. Something caught Wylie’s attention up at the apex of the pyramid when a women fell over a balustrade and plunged to her death. Mr. Dufresne’s description of this seminal event, which I have no space to quote, is quite marvelous and sets high expectations for the rest of his story, expectations he meets and often surpasses. The detail and the distinctive evaluative thought process is given to Wylie himself. After all, he is the sleuth narrator of these experiences.

Dufresne

Dufresne

Murder, accident, suicide? Once readers discover who this women is, and why she is in Las Vegas, they are on their way to the Q & A sequences that are at the heart of detective-centered crime fiction. What is most curious is the reaction of the officials who visit the crime scene. Soon after, they don’t seem to have any knowledge anything untoward happening at the Luxor. Nothing in the newspaper or on television. Then come only denials by the police spokesperson. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the August 17, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the August 18 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter editions, click here: Florida Weekly – I Don’t Like Where This Is Going

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