Below The Line

Mysterious Book Report No. 384

by John Dwaine McKenna

If the unconventional and quirky kind of character is your cup of tea, this week’s MBR No. 384 will put a smile on your face that can’t be knocked off with a fire ax, because author Howard Michael Gould is about to release his second Charlie Waldo novel.

Below The Line, (Dutton, $26.00, 304 pages, ISBN 978-1524744861) will hit the bookstores on August 13, 2019, and feature the continuing adventures of the brilliant ex-LAPD detective and eco-wacko named Charlie Waldo . . . the guy who’s got himself so stirred up about climate change that he lives a minimalist existence based upon owning no more than one hundred objects at a time.

In this case Charlie’s slipped down from his shack up in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills to sleepover at his girlfriend’s house.  Her name is Lorena, and she’s trying to get Charlie to become her business partner in order to cash in on his celebrity from the publicity he got after solving the apparently impossible murder of a movie and TV star’s wife. Hoisted by his own petard, so-to-speak, Charlie agrees, and they’re soon up to their necks with the case of Stevie Rose—the spoiled-brat privileged L.A. teenager who claims that one of her high-school teachers seduced and had sexual relations with her.  When the teacher turns up dead and Stevie, who lies constantly, continuously and ceaselessly, disappears, the LAPD wants to pin the murder on her.  Her parents, a Hollywood power couple, beg Lorena and Waldo to find Stevie and exonerate her, plunging Waldo deep into a seamy underbelly of Orange County, where the opulent and seedy live side-by-side, treachery abounds at every turn . . . and nothing is as it seems, while Charlie struggles to keep his self-ordained lifestyle and his complicated love life in tact.

If you crave relief from all the snarling, hucksterism, pomposity, lying, cheating, sniffing, scratching and sneering that passes for public discourse these days, read this novel.  Mr. Gould’s precise and expert skewering of Hollywood’s elite, their outrageous incomes, lifestyle and attitudes, as well as their obnoxious, solipsistic and demanding hectoring of we, the deplorable, to conform to a lifestyle they themselves wouldn’t even dream of . . . is spot on.  It’ll leave you laughing until you get hiccups!

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