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Baby, Would I Lie? (1994)

by Donald E. Westlake

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1893121,495 (3.6)2
Intrepid reporter Sara Joslyn, having escaped the clutches of the supermarket tabloid Weekly Galaxy, is finally going to be allowed to practice "clean journalism." Unfortunately, intrepid editor Jack Ingersoll has other plans, assigning her to a gory sex-murder trial in Branson, Missouri, home to more country stars than there are in the heavens. While delving into the muck, rake in hand, Sara runs into her old comrades from the Galaxy - Binx Radwell, Boy Cartwright, and the Down Under Trio among them. At the eye of this journalistic cyclone is country musician Ray Jones; is he guilty of the grisly murder, and what else is he up to, if anything? The lyrics to eleven Ray Jones hits are sprinkled throughout the novel and are an important accompaniment to the proceedings, if only Sara and Jack can keep their fingers out of their ears long enough to hear it...… (more)
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Showing 3 of 3
country star manipulates murder accusation to escape IRS
  ritaer | May 21, 2021 |
I figured out where the book was going long before it got there. It was a bit quirky, but I wouldn't really characterize it as funny. I might try another Westlake, though. ( )
  AliceAnna | Aug 9, 2014 |
An interesting little tale from Donald E Westlake in which he manages to take aim at and skewer tabloid journalists in particular, country music and its fans in general, and, to a lesser extent, small town justice.

The story goes something like this: In the bustling down-home entertainment mecca of Branson, Missouri one time big star Ray Jones is going on trial for the murder of a young woman who had, prior to her violent death, been employed at his concert theater. Ray is someone who's a few years past the big hits but still draws a crowd, something of a lesser country music icon. As the trial proceeds the little town is overrun with media people out for a big story.

Conspicuous among the news folk is a small army of sleazy, scuzzy, drunken, and downright disreputable operatives from The Weekly Galaxy, a tabloid newspaper that makes The National Enquirer look like Time magazine. Their mission is to find the story, make it bigger, bolder, more seedy and in the process throw all other reporters off the track with their usual tactics of chicanery, treachery and what ever else it takes.

Among the competing journalists is one Sara Joslyn a former Galaxy operative who's gone straight by taking a real journalistic job at a New York style magazine. Her mission is to try to get exclusive access to the accused and his people while keeping the tabloids at bay.

It all makes for something of a media circus train wreck to the tune of banjos and fiddles.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with both The San Diego Union-Tribune and The Washington Post Book World, whose blurbs appear on the back cover, I didn't find this particular book to be either "A LAUGH-OUT LOUD NOVEL" (so said The Union-Tribune) nor "DOWNRIGHT HILARIOUS" (Washington Post Book World). It was a good -- not great -- little mystery novel that had a few moments of chuckle worthy humor. Definitely not one of Westlake's funnier endeavors.

Donald E. Westlake really hits hard at Branson, country music fans and the culture around them as represented in this novel, almost as if he has a personal vendetta of some sort -- I picture Mr. Westlake stuck in traffic for several hours behind a modern day wagon train of motor-homes all with country music bumper stickers and signs saying "Branson or Bust" plotting out this novel as his revenge.

I have no great affinity for country and western music or its fans but there were several times when the attempts at humor at the expense of the culture were so mean spirited they made me wince a little (and I'm a Westlake fan!).

There are fun moments involving the various tabloid characters and their shenanigans. It's a decent book, less mystery than character study in my opinion. The whole did he or didn't he kill her thing doesn't really come into play much until the last 15 pages or so when that whole thing begins to heat up to a rapid boil.

There is some sex and violence -- mainly implied rather than graphic -- and the language gets a little salty once or twice but nothing too seriously bad. ( )
1 vote Mike-L | Apr 8, 2013 |
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Intrepid reporter Sara Joslyn, having escaped the clutches of the supermarket tabloid Weekly Galaxy, is finally going to be allowed to practice "clean journalism." Unfortunately, intrepid editor Jack Ingersoll has other plans, assigning her to a gory sex-murder trial in Branson, Missouri, home to more country stars than there are in the heavens. While delving into the muck, rake in hand, Sara runs into her old comrades from the Galaxy - Binx Radwell, Boy Cartwright, and the Down Under Trio among them. At the eye of this journalistic cyclone is country musician Ray Jones; is he guilty of the grisly murder, and what else is he up to, if anything? The lyrics to eleven Ray Jones hits are sprinkled throughout the novel and are an important accompaniment to the proceedings, if only Sara and Jack can keep their fingers out of their ears long enough to hear it...

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