This is a robbery thriller set inside an American Hall of Fame museum. Meet Bernard Zablocki, who was hired to guard the halls. He barely survived Vietnam and is now run by his wife Eleanor; there’s a dead body in the house. Zablocki’s brother Robert is still a prisoner and needs a better place for his family.
On a whim, they seek refuge in the Museum of Living Monsters in western Oklahoma. A bevy of killer shows collect the interest of the weird old TV and movies in the museum.
This is a knockout of a book. The writing is smooth and soulful. The book closes on a note of discovery. When Zablocki leaves the museum, the book goes dark and the end of his story begins. Without mentioning his name, the reader gets a feeling that we’re on the side of a protagonist who wins and soldiers on against all odds.
The money has been stolen. Bernie is in debt to the mob. Robert is in debt to the mob. Evie is new to the family. The families have small, starting-over lives. They go through ups and downs and that’s the book.
The creepy, snake-like figure behind the curtain is Theodore Rinker, the stranger with a mysterious past. He is a thief of fables, a collector of tricks and con men, and a conman himself.
Aside from being a hero and solving his family’s problems, the story sounds like a disaster movie. It’s that crazy, extreme kind of story.
The results, however, are far different. It’s a movie that doesn’t scare, but inspires.