Southeastern Oregon plays host to investigative reporter Eldon Larkin, who has just fallen for the area's new deputy D.A., the astute and beautiful Melissa Lafky. The two first meet at the crime scene where a grossly obese pimp/gambler/pornographer ate his last meal. The plot becomes quite basic: boy beds girl if boy solves crime first. Eldon gives the murder his all, naturally, learning about cards, topiaries, picket lines, and dangerous characters on the way. Down-to-earth setting, tone, humor, and prose all indicate a fine choice.
"Dead giant pimp" are the first words we read in Kohler's third Eldon Larkin mystery; then things take a bizarre twist. Larkin, ace reporter for the "South Coast Sun" in Port Jerome, Oregon, is hot on the story of a 452-pound former Port Jerome High football star turned pimp who was murdered by a blast from a shotgun disguised in pornographic topiary (ornamental shrubbery). Lending urgency to his task is a bet that will land him in bed with a pretty prosecutor if he cracks the case before the police. Unreliable transportation and a pair of vicious thugs complicate his investigation, but with the help of a prostitute, an eccentric gardener, and a gay piano player, he draws ever closer to unveiling the murderer. It's just a question of whether he'll survive the final revelation. This is vintage Kohler--offbeat to the point of being weird, even grotesque, but funny and fun from beginning to end.