Summary: After collecting a crippling amount of gambling debt, Charles Hatbox is payed to swap his body for cash with Jimmy Plush, a three foot tall teddy bear detective. Charles now Jimmy inherits a driver named Chang, a sea of enemies, and a girlfriend who dresses in a fox suit. This collection of short stories riffs on hard boiled detective novels with a bizarro twist. Fans of Raymond Chandler, take notice. Anyone frightened by furries, beware.
While writing up that summary I felt like I was transcribing the plot of a Rob Schneider movie. “Rob Schneider is, Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective, and he’s about to find out just how hard being a teddy bear is! Rob Schneider is a carrot! Rob Schneider is a stapler! Der derp dee derpy derp derp derp.”
Anyway, welcome to another Bizarro Blursday where we (generally me) review bizarro novels that get submitted to us by a variety of bizarro authors. This week we have an entirely different level of bizarro, which author Garrett Cook has dubbed Neopulp Expressionism and Chainsaw Noir. For anyone who likes detective novels from the 20’s and 30’s, this is the bizarro for you. If you’re not a fan of mysteries, crime, or anything resembling Dick Tracy, this is not your short story collection.
There are five different short stories in this book: “Mr. Plush, Detective”, “Mr. Plush and the Dead Horse”, “Jimmy Plush and Mittens O’Hara in Zuvembie Soiree”, “Mr. Plush and the Chief Inspector”, and “Jimmy Plush in the Tomb of the Martian Pharaoh” and they get definitely weirder as they progress. From crime rings with furries to talking horses, zombies, cover ups and alien Egyptian tombs, this is one confusing book for someone who doesn’t enjoy nor read mysteries too often.
There are A LOT of furries in these tales, particularly because the big bad Halperin seems to be running some sort of furry prostitute ring. He even has associates dressed like furries, so it goes beyond just his hookers. My two favorite furries are Tusky and Bernstein, a walrus and a squid respectively who want to get their hands on Jimmy Plush- I’m particularly receptive to the walrus, Tusky because of his ridiculous name. No idea why the squid is name Bernstein and not some silly variation on tentacles, but to each his own. And for that matter, why is Bernstein not a bear?
Another furry is Jimmy’s girlfriend Jean, who is a literal fox due to the fox suit she constantly wears to go to work (she’s also one of Halperin’s prostitutes which is a conflict of interest for multiple reasons). She is Jimmy’s go-to whenever he gets injured or just needs a place to lay low. Thankfully gunshot wounds are incredibly easy to take care of when you’re full of fluff rather than blood and organs, and a needle and thread patch him right up.
In addition to furries, there are the other people who swapped bodies with animals, but Jimmy seems to be the only one who swapped with an anthropomorphic stuffed animal. First up is Mittens O’Hara, a cat reporter who types up news on a giant typewriter likes he’s straight out of an internet meme. There’s also the pony police officer Horskowitz, the obviously Jewish pony who meets a tragic end. A talking Jewish pony!?! Those are some of my favorite things!
Due to the nature of this satire, there is a lot of evident racism used to mimic the 20’s and 30’s. For example, Jimmy’s driver Chang (he may or may not be inspired by Kato from the radio show “The Green Hornet”) is consistently called Chang the Chinaman, or simply the Chinaman. References are constantly made to his yellow skin and slanted eyes, and he comes complete with a ridiculous accent. Speaking of ridiculous accents, in the last story you get not one but two thick accents: Don Pedro who speaks in a Spanish accent with a lisp and Francois who instead of saying Mr. Plush can only say Monsieur Ploosh. Maybe this was indicative of the time too?
Other hilarious tidbits include a man who played a Frigidaire in Hamlet and his associate named Mr. Rigatoni, the fact that Othello features a washing machine, and that there is a creature known as a Sexquatch. A Sasquatch used for sex. DUH! With all the hilarity, I wish I would have liked this book better, but sadly it was a detective novel and that’s just not my thing. Bonus for the casual sci-fi lover (again, not me) there are ancient aliens that the History Channel would fall in love with.
-Idea of body-swapping is fun, especially when cute animals are involved
-Fun characters with silly names
-Enjoy the creation of the new genres, particularly Chainsaw Noir
-Not a fan of crime, mystery, or detective novels so the plot held little interest
-Hard to follow (confusing at times)
-Difficult to care for the characters and notice growth
While not a fan of crime novels, which led to this not being my favorite bizarro novel in the world, I think a fan of the genre would be a lot more receptive to these short stories. So if you’re into rough and assured main characters who always get the girl and solve mysteries, this is the collection for you.