Fat, impudent and cowardly, Shakespeare's Falstaff character was a compelling tub of lard, a Homer Simpson centuries before his time. Falstaff has been revived many times in plays, films and operas, and he returns once more in "The Mystery Call Girls Riot: And Other Sad Events Relating to the Incarnation of Mystery Call" (ISBN 1470000784) by Aka Lockord. Although this lively retelling of Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor," may question some 21st century notions, it is set in the American West during a period when ranches (to save fuel for the mechanized war effort) relied on horses for power. That practice continued for some years after World War II.
In Lockord's hands, Falstaff comes to life once more, this time not as a soldier but as the scholarly CAlvin Baker, a theater impresario whose troupe's itinerate schedule leads to a town where he once had lived. Calvin, whose stage name is "Mystery Call," writes ballets for a troupe advertised as "The Mystery Call Girls." This title is as offensive to some as it is alluring to others. When Calvin and his troupe arrive in Horn Valley and start performing in the town of Philo his family is scandalized.
Seventeen years earlier, during the Great Depression, Calvin, a jobless widower, fled the community to find employment, leaving his infant son in the care of cousins. That infant is now a young man, and his foster parents are eager to protect him from his flamboyant and frivolous father. The 12-year-old son of that nurturing couple (who regards the entrepreneur's son as his brother) manages to put together a posse of young horsemen who prepare extreme measures to protect the youth from the derelict showman. And when the newspaper quotes a respected pastor, who disapproves of the parading of "seminude Mystery Call Girl floozies" on stage every night, the congregation is offended and also becomes involved. Moral issues threaten to turn simple reunion into a protest and protest into a melee involving the whole town.
Adding to the book's literary richness is its narrator. This is a tale told in Heaven about the curious events of Calvin and company on Earth. It is narrated by an angel (possibly ready to fall from grace); this is the imagined (or real) guardian angel of a thuggish handyman named Pistol, one of Falstaff's servants in Shakespeare's original play. A picaresque tale told by an angel, who looks like a devil or jester, "The Mystery Call Girls Riot" is a novel aimed at readers who like literary traditions and love a good story even more.
"The Mystery Call Girls Riot: And Other Sad Events Relating to the Incarnation of Mystery Call" is available for sale online at Amazon.com and other channels.