As if his last novel hadn’t done enough damage, Braith Pindrop is back with a new book exploiting the nascent national fad of ferret racing. As far as this reviewer can tell, the ferret-racing fad is only three months old, suggesting that Pindrop’s book, The Sleek Ones, was rushed out.
Derrick Dewlap is a lovable loser searching for a way to get his groove back when he’s offered a chance to buy one of the top racing ferrets in the unnamed region (but what is plainly a featureless rural Nebraska). Naturally he jumps at the opportunity, only to find that “Frisky Whiskers” isn’t the famous, winning ferret at all but an imposter. Derrick’s been had … again.
There’s only one thing to do if he’s to win back his investment of one hundred thousand bucks (how he had saved up so much as a luckless loser is not explained): train the faux Frisky to run like a champ. He enlists the help of his sometime girlfriend, Lucy Hassenfuß, to get this near-rodent into top condition for the big race, but it goes without saying that romantic interludes slow the trio down though the clock is ticking.
Of course, the owners of the real “Frisky Whiskers” get wind of the plan and attempt to undermine Derrick in a number of diabolical ways that are better left undescribed. Suffice to say that B-movie clichés abound. Derrick, on the eve of the big race, can only imagine that faux Frisky will fail him (having gained twenty pounds in spite of his rigorous training), but Lucy has other plans.
Spoilers prevent any further account of the “plot” of The Sleek Ones. Read the flap copy, or just skip the whole thing.
Pindrop’s boilerplate prose is workmanlike at best and incoherent at regular intervals. His dialogue reads like the text on Ikea assembly instructions. Descriptions of places and people depict a world of stick figures on flat brown burlap.
And yet there’s a certain charm here that wins one over.
No doubt Pindrop will continue manufacturing surreally popular books that capture the public imagination, but in his oeuvre of over 150 titles, The Sleek Ones will prove to be one with legs.
At least four of them.
[Previously published in What The Hell: Kevin Brennan Writes About What It’s Like.]
Kevin Brennan is a novelist and editor of The Disappointed Housewife.