by Brian M. Wiprud

Read an

Those of us who came of age in the 1950s and early 1960s fondly
remember the local kiddie show hosts on afternoon television. I'm
not talking about Captain Kangaroo or Buffalo Bob, though they were
great in their own right. No, I'm talking about the guys who
labored locally (no syndication), who were heroes within a ten-mile
radius but unknown outside of their city limits. The requirement
for employment seemed to be a non-threatening camera persona, an
ability to segue into and out of cartoons, and some nominal talent
as a ventriloquist while working a hand puppet. In my household, we
were in front of the television at three o'clock to watch "Casper
the Camel" on Channel Six. My grandparents lived out of town, so we
were able to see "Barnaby," "Captain Penney" and "Professor Jack"
once in a while, too. You don't see guys like them anymore in these
days of cable television, and I miss that.

PIPSQUEAK by Brian M. Wiprud is a somewhat whacked-out tribute to
these shows and asks an important question: Where did all the
puppets go? Or, in this case, where did Pipsqueak the Nutty Nut go?
Wiprud, from what little I know of him, appears to be a way-cool
guy. He has quite a bit in common with Garth Carson, his creation
and the voice of Pipsqueak. They both have an interest in taxidermy
(Carson collects and practices, Wiprud collects), both live in New
York City, and both drive classic convertibles. Wiprud, in fact, is
busily doing an author's tour driving his very own red convertible
through America's heartland even as I type. Wiprud is also an urban
archeologist, an expert on the urban underground --- the
infrastructure, if you will --- of the American city. This is not a
lightweight topic; Wiprud was one of the experts consulted
regarding rescue and rebuilding in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist
attacks on New York City. He, accordingly, is someone who knows a
lot about many different things --- and it shows in

PIPSQUEAK is ... well, it's a bit different from most of the
mysteries out there. It begins with Carson stumbling upon the
original Pipsqueak puppet in a north Jersey antique store. Before
he gets out of the store --- actually, before he gets out of the
store's bathroom --- there's a dead body, a murderer on the lam,
and a missing puppet. It soon develops that Pipsqueak has more
value than as a mere collectible. There are a number of opposing
forces that want this puppet in a very bad way. It isn't long
before Carson is told, clearly, to back off.

There is a strong supporting cast here, including Angie, Carson's
female interest; Carson's long-lost and somewhat mysterious
brother, Nick; Dudley, Carson's eccentric but brilliant friend; and
Otto, a broadly presented Russian refugee who managed to survive
the Gulag. Carson needs all of these folks to survive, but at the
same time he is putting them in danger. In the meantime, Carson has
to contend with a host of adversaries, including a shyster lawyer
and mysterious double agents. And whatever happened to General
Buster, the creator of Pipsqueak? Wiprud, and PIPSQUEAK, have the

PIPSQUEAK suffers just a bit in its pacing. The dialogue, though
always interesting, occasionally brings the action to a grinding
halt. Given the somewhat frantic nature of the subject matter, less
talk and more action might have been preferable. Generally,
however, PIPSQUEAK is a fun romp. As a bonus, it also includes a
few pages from Wiprud's next book, FLIP, which is scheduled for
publication in the summer of 2005. It's difficult to tell from a
few pages, but FLIP looks to be a good one as well. Let's
definitely keep an eye on Wiprud, red convertible and all.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 18, 2011

by Brian M. Wiprud

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dell
  • ISBN-10: 0440241871
  • ISBN-13: 9780440241874