The Shroud of the Thwacker
Chris Elliott, star of 1994’s Cabin Boy (yep, that Chris Elliott), spoofs 19th-century thrillers in his debut novel, The Shroud of the Thwacker. Think Caleb Carr meets Monty Python. Set mainly in 1882-era NYC but awkwardly framed by modern updates of Elliott’s own investigation à la Possession, the novel follows detective Caleb (a nod to Carr?) Spencer as he tracks Jack the Jolly Thwacker, a serial killer offing prostitutes, removing their intestines, and positioning the innards in odd shapes (e.g., a beehive hairdo). Along for the ride are a flatulent Teddy Roosevelt and Spencer’s old flame, reporter Liz Smith. For a taste of Elliott’s humor, consider Liz’s drink of choice: ”God’s Own Enema.” If that doesn’t do it for you, Shroud also weaves in Don Imus, time travel, midgets, and Yoko Ono.