H. J. Mavity, painter of paperback romance covers, has a perplexing riddle to solve when her ex-boyfriend, Rick Dell, collapses at her feet after telling her that the words "ninety-nine clop clop" hold the clue to a lot of money. Although Dell has clearly been murdered, H. J.'s avarice gets the better of her and she determines to risk the ire of whoever has killed Dell to go after the money. First, however, she must understand the riddle and who better to help her than her ex-husband, Ben Spanner, a gifted mimic whose voice is known to millions through TV and radio commercials. Ben knows just about every show business joke around and will surely be familiar with the routine of a hack stand-up comic like Dell. Ben is some¬what aggrieved to see H. J. again for he knows better than anyone else that she spells trouble. He comes through with the riddle to which "ninety-nine clop clop" is the solution but H. J.'s lingering attraction for him overcomes his common sense and he, too,is soon in pursuit of the stash Dell's clue points to-though more to protect H. J. than to feather his own nest.
Little does Ben suspect that H. J. has plans that don't include him. When a new job takes him to New York City to play the voice of an English muffin, H. J. takes the opportunity to slip away from his Connecticut home with the contents of Dell's hideaway. Ben, who thought he had convinced H. J. that their and should be turned over to the police, must now use all his ingenuity to save her from a desperate killer.
©1990 Ronald Goulart (P)2012 David Wilson
Ron Goulart's story and storytelling are aces. Clifton Satterfield's third-person narration is very good. But Satterfield's character voices leave a lot to be desired. Even if the mannerisms given to Ben Spanner in his off-duty voice are meant as satirical of some actual voice artists I can think of, they are just too obnoxious for a main protagonist not intended to be a laughingstock. And when Spanner does impressions of familiar actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood, it's clear that Satterfield has NO idea what those still-famous voices sound like. He doesn't know how to pronounce Mel Blanc's last name. He "corrects" Henny Youngman's first name to "Henry." He's a good narrator in some respects, but he wasn't the right choice for this book.
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