Book Review: The Big Grabowski by Carolyn J. Rose & Mike Nettleton

The Big Grabowski
Carolyn J. Rose & Mike Nettleton
Krill Press, 2009
ISBN 0982144334
Trade Paperback

This is one of the funniest mysteries I’ve ever read! It rates so high on my list of all-time favorite mysteries,  any author will have to go a long way to displace The Big Grabowski. The first few pages had me thinking Mayberry RFD and  Barney Fife !

The setting is Devil’s Harbor, a tourist town in Oregon where, according to Jennifer Daley, an employee at Neptune’s Grotto, nothing exciting ever happens and it’s the most boring town in Oregon.  Jennifer is charged with counting the sea lions since the tourists have a right to know how many sea lions they’ll see for their money.  Jennifer, however, is primarily interested in winning the Miss Whirligig contest and is day dreaming about her coronation dress and crown, as well as practicing her victory dance and her pose for the newspaper photo. Aside from her angst about the whiriligig contest, Jennifer worries about keeping her job so she can get her shoes out of lay- away.

It was when she finally got down to doing her job of counting sea lions that she saw something that was definitely not a bachelor bull; she knew this because she knows that sea lions don’t wear ties. The floater turns out to be Vincent Grabowski, an unscrupulous land developer whose work included leveling ridges for a development by bulldozing tons of earth into a creek during salmon migration. Too, Grabowski, aka Grab-Ass, has sampled more than his share of the women in Devil’s Harbor.

Following the discovery of the homicide, the reader meets character after character who will make you smile if not laugh out loud.  Enter Sergeant Greg Erdman who is agonizing over how he would explain to Molly Donovan, a reporter, why he stood her up the evening before.  Molly, the sleuth, left her job reporting the crime beat in Albuquerque, and moved to Devil’s Harbor when her father had a heart attack. Now she writes for the North Coast Flotsam where the most serious crimes are drunken fist fights and stealing from the cars of tourists while they are busy sightseeing.  There is the not-so-grieving widow, Claire, and her boyfriend, Adam Quarles. Not to be forgotten is Icky Ferris, owner of Sweete Temptations Ice Cream Shop but also a producer of marijuana in his backyard garden. Also memorable is Henri Trevelle, a former professional hockey player, and his cat Margaret whom he calls a little slut since she goes “slumming in the alley like a common trollop”.

The list of interesting characters, most of whom had a motive to push The Big Grabowski off Perdition Point to swim with the sea lions, goes on and on. According to Molly, using the phone book for a suspect list would be a good starting point. I must admit that when I read a book with many characters, I tend to forget who is who which then forces me to refer back, but not so with this book. These characters are outstanding and unforgettable !

The Big Grabowski is entertaining and so much fun, I hated it to end. I give this book the highest rating !!  I hope the authors are busy on a sequel or some other equally funny book. In conclusion…READ THIS BOOK – you won’t regret it!

Reviewed by Jean Tribull Harris, August 2010.