Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, February 6, 2015


Laverne and Shirley #3:  Gold Rush by "Con Steffanson" (Ron Goulart) 1976

With apologies for the lateness of today's FFB, let's get right into it.

America's favorite beer bottle cappers are back in this third and final tie-in by a pseudonymous Ron Goulart.  As with many of Goulart's books from this period, this one is a fast, brief read -- 26 chapters in less than 140 pages.

I assume everyone is familiar with the television show, so I don't have to give too much background.  Suffice it to say that we're back in 1950s Milwaukee (where the most expensive restaurant is named Chez Bourgeois) and Shirley is getting tired of being ignored by on-again, off-again boyfriend Carmine Ragusa.  So when rock star Rip Roarer (who was once Andy Donelli, a boy who had a crush on Shirley in eleventh grade algebra) is in town for an upcoming concert, Shirley agrees  to go out with him.

Rip/Andy happens to own a small family island complete with run-down mansion.  Now that he's made it big, rip intends to fix up the place and use it as a retreat.  The island had belonged to his grandfather, a reputed bootlegger during the Twenties.  According to legend, grandpa converted his ill-gained millions into gold bullion and hid it somewhere on Bonecrack Island (ominous name, right?).  According to Rip, the island and the mansion had been thoroughly searched a number of times, but no gold had been found.

So why are mysterious people warning Rip and Shirley not to go to the island?  And why was Shirley almost crushed by falling objects?  Twice.

The suspects are many as Carmine, Squiggy, and Lenny rush to save Laverne and Shirley:  Rip's odd (and oddly dysfunctional) bandmates, Rip's many cousins, the mansion's elderly caretakers (who are harboring a secret), an incompetent thug (who keeps getting blackballed from the Syndicate), and his uncle (a has-been gangster).

A simplistic story, befitting the television show from which it sprang but with many of Goulart's enjoyable trademarks -- quick jumps, quirky characters, outlandish situations, sly references, and even slyer humor.  Not nearly as enjoyable as the author's science fiction, mystery, or pulp novels, but watered-down Goulart can still be fun for his fans.

And, yes, I'm a fan.

1 comment:

  1. I suspect even a living-wage (one hopes) assignment such as this is still ahead of the typical William Johnstone tie-in I'd come across and read as a sprat...I'm definitely a Goulart fan, too...