As a writer, Johnny Shaw is a bit of a throwback. A self-professed lover of men’s adventure paperbacks, his over-the-top writing style aims to be humorous, sort of like a Tim Dorsey of Calexico-Mexicali. This has both positive and negatives to it. While many of his phrase turns are stunning in their absurdity and often laugh-out-loud funny, over the course of a full novel (or several) it can get a little tedious. Hrm…not unlike a Tim Dorsey of Calexico-Mexicali. So while Shaw is probably best known for his Jimmy Veeder novels (Dove Season, Big Maria, and his latest, Plaster City), where he really shines in his short fiction.
Which brings us to the short story, The Snickerdoodle Kerfuffle. This Mike Hammer-meets-Encyclopedia Brown send up is simply hilarious. (And bonus points for using my two favorite words in the title.) Eleven year old detective Simon Sez is on the case to find some stolen cookies. Along the way, he learns some things about life. Blah, blah, blah. I won’t go into great detail summarizing the plot, because it’s only twenty-two pages. You can read. What I want to highlight is why you should read these particular twenty-two pages. The reason is paragraphs like this one, ripped from the mind of a hard-boiled preteen boy:
That thought quickly turned to vapor, because I was next to the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Her hair was the color of the inside of a Butterfinger. Her freckles were like a cute case of measles. She wore culottes and a T-shirt with a picture of a unicorn saying Hugs in a word balloon. And the scabs and grass stains on her legs told me she liked to play rough. She was an angel straight from heaven. I wanted to pull her hair.
The story is littered with gems like this one. Makes it well worth the pocket change you’ll spend (or if you have Prime, borrow through the Amazon lending library like I did). After that, dig into his website, Blood & Tacos, and check out his other story collections. You won’t regret it.