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    Review of OYSTER BLUES by Michael McClelland

    ibooks, October 2002 (e-book version 2001)

    Harry Harper has blown his assignment as a private eye, lost his job as an English professor, and gotten drunk enough that he shot a chicken through the wall and thought he'd murdered someone. Jane Ellen Ashley thought she'd murdered someone too--the powerful (and evil) state senator's son. Now both are on the run. For both, the problems pile up. Harper takes up with a pair of gangsters while Ashley becomes the love interest of a Cuban/Bahamian gangster accountant who will stop at nothing to have her--and believes that Ashley is the only way for him to prove his manhood to his Cuban co-workers. Add a farmer hitman and a man with a plastic tube for his throat and you have the makings of a very funny story.

    According to the back cover copy, author Michael McClelland is an English professor, which explains both part of the appeal and part of the problem with this first novel. McClelland works hard at his humor and it shows--sometimes working brilliantly and sometimes seeming forced and awkward. His author intrusions too are hit and miss. Some may find the digression into the fate of the dead chicken knee-splittingly funny. I found it merely a digression from the story.

    Bottom line, there's a lot to like and some to dislike about this book. The dumb but well-meaning giant is a cliche (but maybe that's what McClelland is trying to show--it's tough to know with English professors). I hope McClelland does more research and gets an editor for his next book (weapon calibers rarely change from 38s to 45s and revolvers really don't have safeties), but I still found myself drawn into OYSTER BLUES, laughing at McClelland's jokes, and appreciating the clever scheme our heros must confront.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 1/09/03

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