The Edgar-nominated author of Gun Monkeys is back with a thrill-a-minute suspense novel that mixes crime and academia—with hilarious results. Here Victor Gischler draws us into a wild and wicked world, where tenured professors are busy burying bodies, cash-up-front P.I.’s hunt for missing coeds and one desperate street-tough has to decide which he’d rather be: a live poet or a dead criminal.
An unlucky grad student just got himself killed in a robbery gone bad. And as lowly drug lieutenant Harold Jenks races with the killer out of the alley, a light goes off in his head: He’ll steal the dead kid’s identity. Now Jenks, who once lorded it over seven square blocks in East St. Louis, is headed due west. With a .32 in his pocket, a 9mm Glock taped across his back, and a rap sheet nearly as long as Finnegans Wake, he’s cruising the halls of academia as Eastern Oklahoma U’s newest grad student, looking for action and hoping he can stay one couplet ahead of his violent past.
While this new bad boy on campus makes mincemeat of his metaphors, across campus visiting professor Jay Morgan has a more pressing problem: What to do about the dead coed in his bed. The professor’s no killer, but try telling that to private eye Deke Stubbs. With the professor on the lam and Stubbs hot on his trail, more trouble blows into town. Now, as St. Louis drug boss Red Zach and his minions converge on Fumbee, Oklahoma, looking for a consignment of missing cocaine, the bullets start flying faster than the zingers at a faculty hate fest. For Morgan and Jenks, now desperate fugitives from poetic justice, survival means learning new skills—and learning fast. Because if they find out they’re bottom-of-the-class, that means they’re already dead.
Featuring the sleaziest, sorriest, and most captivating group of criminal lowlifes, sexed-up academics, poets, and rappers ever to collide in one crime novel, The Pistol Poets speeds deliriously to its electrifying payoff.
With this madcap sophomore outing, after 2001's Edgar-nominated Gun Monkeys, Gischler challenges Kinky Friedman for top slot in the zany noir subgenre of mystery fiction and for sheer mayhem and body count momentum, Gischler may triumph. Itinerant poetry teacher Jay Morgan is one semester into a short-term contract as a visiting professor at Eastern Oklahoma University when he wakes up with that time-honored mystery clich , a dead girl in his bed. Before he can react before, actually, he realizes she's dead he's called into the office of the dean and handed the unenviable assignment of editing the poetry of crusty old Fred Jones, a major donor to the campus literary magazine. For Morgan, who loathes amateur poets, this is pretty bad news. Jones is just as dismayed with his new editor's appearance ("Is this guy on the dope? Don't saddle me with no dopehead"). But Jones has surprising skills: he quickly takes care of Morgan's corpse problem and, you guessed it, he turns out to be one hell of a poet. Besides the dead girl, there are a number of other comic plot threads: a street thug with a bag of stolen dope assumes the identity of one of his victims and attends the university as a poetry graduate student; an undergrad reporter writing a story on Morgan quickly drags him into bed; and the bad guy owner of the stolen dope rolls into town bent on revenge. Gischler deftly weaves together these elements and more and comes up with plenty of laughs (and an equal number of groaners), all imbedded within a small war's worth of bullets and blood. This is a far-fetched but fast and viciously enjoyable read.