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Nicholas Palihnic is a natty, tweed-suited hustler who knows every nook and cranny of New York–and a thousand ways to break a girl’s heart. Beatrice Belarus is a Manhattan art dealer with an insatiable appetite for money–and for anyone who gets in her way. And a painting titled Trampoline Nude, 1972 has neither nudity nor a trampoline. But when Nicholas is hired by an insurance company to find the recently stolen painting, a murdered art thief points him to a trove of gold buried beneath Manhattan–and suddenly all roads are leading back to Beatrice. As fortune hunters, lovers, and other strangers gather around him, there’s one thing Nicholas must remember above all else: in this business, it’s better to be crooked than dead….
New York City taxidermy collector Garth Carson was seconds away from snagging the greatest find of his career—the original Pipsqueak the Nutty Nut, stuffed-squirrel puppet star of his favorite 1950s kiddie TV show—until a biker, a brawny redhead, and a murder derailed his dreams and stole his squirrel. Now Garth would do anything to get Pipsqueak back. Unfortunately, so would someone else.
When Garth and his gal, Angie, two of New York’s most unlikely sleuths, enter a wacky, rollicking underworld of club-goers, jive cult members, and at least one very violent Pipsqueak aficionado, Garth’s black-sheep crime-prone brother joins the fray, sure that there’s more to this squirrel than old fur and a pair of glass eyes. Suddenly Garth is starting to get a clue: The puppet star of one old-time TV show is leading him straight into the heart of a loopy cult, a retro rage, and a diabolical conspiracy to first control Pipsqueak—then the world.