Amidst this big dry, “Hard times, hard times” is the cry heard everywhere – though some hope remains. Because Armistice rumors plus enforced moral prohibitions are purportedly ushering in a more patriotic thus prosperous and pure era for Christianville. So now is the time to seize this opportunity by getting together and pulling as one toward the greater good. But here, deep in Texico’s darkest heart, very bad intentions crackle through this stifling conformist atmosphere reeking of hypocrisy.
Alas Lieutenant Race Maximus Freeborn is a contradictory bundle. Depending on whom you ask, either his brittle shell-shocked ego just loves hearing his own voice or he’s a curt maverick bolstered by fierce ideals. Whatever the case, he’s in Christianville because his best friend, Stan Manley, sent a telegram requesting help. Upon entering their meeting place he transfixes boggle-eyed: moments ago Stan just killed himself with a shotgun blast to the face! Quiet time for mourning is most necessary. But because the tableau seems too apparent? Perhaps contrived? And Stan would never do such a thing? He concludes not thwarting the murderer would make him morally culpable.
Letting the chips fall wherever they may, any adverse personal consequences be damned, soon Freeborn’s up to his neck with malevolent intrigue. He discovers each suspect’s tripping over their own ambition in the power vacuum Mayor Old Man Christian’s untimely death created. Along the way we’ll encounter Sheriff Irk McLirk, that personification of hyperbolic toughness transposed with stupidity; E.B. “Junior” Christian, a pompous ass habituated by affluence to getting his way; you will spot that well-tailored, overfed spiritual huckster named The Most Very Reverend V. Algernon Biggs from a mile away; Old Man Christian’s silent partner I.C. Doolittle, a wizened man time’s left behind who enters messiah mode while defending his bootlegging; Magistrate Digby Scruggs, who can never divest his frigid mask; the less said about Chomper and Deputy Boozer the better; and you already regret meeting Mozilla.
To solve this nefarious mystery, Freeborn leverages mundane details into breakthroughs. Armed only with his irrepressible wit, he must disrupt collective order, and he acquires an ally in Manda Scruggs. A vision, this beauty, so sinuous her movements, those curves. She further distinguishes herself by considering everything relevant before expressing deep thought in short length. Of course plot complications abound! More bodies drop dead! Accomplishing their mission requires them to ingeniously surmount all obstacles and escape many dangerous situations. While doing so he often goes whole hog in the Vaudevillian ham department or absorbs oh so much abuse. Sometimes he leaves motionless bodies strewn about and devastation behind.
Freeborn’s dogged tenacity unhinges Christianville. Heaven-lashed pandemonium ensues as all those deserving suffer the necessary consequences for their hypocritical actions. And right at the end of course the heroine in distress is saved! Which is how Bloody Big Dry Blues concludes, without some maudlin epilogue scene.
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