Gypsy Rose Lee and Biff Brannigan, the burlesque comedian and cohort from Lee’s first novel, THE G-STRING MURDERS, had gotten married, sort of, and they were on their honeymoon, sort of. True, it was a captain that had married them, captain of a water taxi/gondola. Biff had bought a small trailer and they were driving East from San Diego. Both car and trailer were full, though. The movie people were nervous about the marriage and had sent a chaperon along until something more legitimate could be arranged. Also, two strippers and two burlesque comics had been invited along. And assorted animals: a guinea pig, two dogs, and a monkey.
And, of course, Mother.
Mother had asthma and had the most atrocious smelling powder to burn while she hovered over it with a towel over her head.
It was at a trailer park in Ysleta, Texas that Mother found the body, shot in the head, stuffed in the bathtub under the bed. The asthma powder she burned masked the odor of decomposition and she’d found it by sheer accident. It was George, the only name they knew him by, the impromptu “best” man drafted for the wedding.
Mother wanted to slip the body out and bury it in the landfill that backed the trailer park. She feared adverse publicity would hurt Gypsy’s movie career. Gypsy and Biff wanted to call the police. So Mother went for a walk.
And the next thing they knew, a fire was raging in the landfill, approaching fast. Gypsy and Biff hustled everyone from the trailer and moved the car away, then went about trying to dig a trench across the fire line. Only one trailer was lost, belonging to a widow who used it as a traveling beauty parlor.
And Mother was out of sight the whole time. And the body was gone from the tub under the bed.
She seemed to have the Sheriff wrapped around her finger when he arrived. Even when it came out that she’d started the fire, moved the body, and was caught hiding a small gun.
Where the body was found, gas poured over it, a second grave was found, a man stabbed in the back, face pulped beyond recognition. How were they tied together? Or were they? One
was killed in San Diego and one here in Texas.
A nice little mystery with a few twists, dope dealing, marijuana smoking, a third murder, an attempted murder, a confession(?). Fun, originally published in 1942.
For more forgotten books, check out the always good PATTINASE.