We're edging up on a week, and no one has spotted the cowbird hiding in the nest. For those of you playing at home, I will now match the descriptions with their titles:
1. In an alternate, steampunk Victorian England, an opium-addicted special agent must help his assistant and the Queen's chief investigator to find a killer.
The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
2. A secret service agent in love with a married woman gets involved with a covert baseball game between the Secret Service and the CIA, and falls into disfavor when he fails to stop the White House chef from serving Spam to the President and an honored guest.
Night of the Avenging Blowfish: A Novel of Covert Operations, Love, and Luncheon Meat by John Welter
3. Raleigh Hayes, an upstanding citizen of Thermopylae, N.C., and Mingo Sheffield, his needy next-door neighbor are on a two-week odyssey. They encounter a bizarre cast of characters during their adventures, including Raleigh's criminal half-brother Gates, his prison buddy Weeper Berg, and aging jazzman Toutant Kingstree. Their quest is to recapture Hayes's ailing father, who has escaped from the hospital with a young black woman in a recently-purchased Cadillac convertible, and who has left Raleigh a strange set of tasks to fulfill before a planned rendezvous in New Orleans.
Handling Sin by Michael Malone
4. Frank has built an elaborate device in a giant clock wherein a different death awaits the wasp put into it behind each number. He believes the death 'chosen' by the wasp predicts something about the future. He kills other animals as well, and uses their bodies to "protect" his territory. He occupies himself with his rituals and an array of weapons to control the island and occasionally gets drunk with his dwarf friend Jamie in the local pub. Frank's older brother Eric is in an insane asylum. He escapes and rings Frank from phone boxes informing him he is coming to visit.
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
5. A scientist in a surrealist society kidnaps children to steal their dreams, hoping that they slow his aging process. When his little brother is kidnapped, a strongman joins forces with a young girl to rescue the children.
City of Lost Children directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro
6. A pilot for a cosmetics company crashes the company plane while having sex. This event causes him to be blacklisted from flying in the United States, so he accepts a lucrative offer from a doctor-missionary on a remote Micronesian island to transport cargo to and from the island and Japan. He moves to the island, along with a male Filipino transvestite navigator and a talking fruit bat.
Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore
7. When their traveling circus begins to fail, a couple devise an idea to breed their own freak show, using various drugs and radioactive material to alter the genes of their children. The results are a boy with flippers for hands and feet; Siamese twins; a hunchbacked albino dwarf; and the normal-looking baby of the family who has telekinetic powers.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
8. Doug Hoover never liked work and he changed jobs and women frequently. Dissatisfied with his current life, he hooks up with Sue Jean and takes off. When he comes to the end of his journey, a wonderful town where everything costs a nickel, he realizes he has died and must decide whether or not to go back in another form. Some of the people he discusses this with are Billy the Kid, the Red Baron, and assorted Wild West and World War I aces. The heaven they are in has cars, dogs, cats, ribs, saloons, and sex.
The Hereafter Gang by Neal Barrett, Jr.
9. Since the death of his young daughter, a successful children's book author has begun seeing the fantastical creatures from his book come to life. He's also being stalked by a lunatic who claims to be his biggest fan.
Zod Wallop by William Browning Spencer
10. The president agrees to appear in a series of dangerous illusions for a magician. All seems well, but when the president dies mysteriously hours later, the magician has to flee the country. Pursued by hapless of FBI agents, he falls in love with a beautiful blind woman and confronts an old nemesis bent on destroying him.
Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold
11. Recovering from the death of his wife, Jack, an engineer living in Austin, Texas, meets and falls in love with Lily, a perfect beauty except, perhaps, for her wings and clawed bird-feet. Lily is the goddess of the moon and can meet Jack only when the moon is full, and then only if he awaits her outside, stark naked. When this requirement leads to his being arrested for indecent exposure, a motley crew of friends comes to his aid.
Lunatics by Brad Denton
12. In the hospital recuperating from an attack by a rabid squirrel, Hap wonders why his best friend hasn't been by to visit. Turns out that Leonard, upset by his boyfriend leaving him, goes to the biker bar and beats Raul's new man up.When the biker turns up dead later that night, it doesn't take long to guess who the primary suspect is--especially with Leonard nowhere to be found. After Hap checks himself out of the hospital and finds Leonard hiding in his bed, they stumble onto a conspiracy involving gaybasher pornography and Leonard's ready to exact some vigilante justice.
Bad Chili by Joe R. Lansdale
13. A split-brained data processor is summoned by a deranged scientist and his granddaughter and told that the scientist has devised a perfect secret code by operating on the brains of selected computer workers. Alternating between these encounters with the scientist, the scientist's granddaughter, Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, and various thugs, librarians, subterranean monsters and bully-boys bent on finding out what he knows, there is the story of the ancient walled town at the end of the world.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
14. In a near-future city, there's a private dick in a world where asking questions is taboo,leaving memory as his sole resource. Government-distributed mind-altering drugs are everywhere, and each citizen carries to keep track of his or her karma points. Most of the menial work is done by genetically engineered English-speaking, bipedal "evolved" animals, and a kangaroo is gunning for the detective.
Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
15. A highly unorthodox detective and a conjurer by profession whose act has fallen on hard times has cracked some of the city's most notorious murders. Now, he's leading the investigation into a shadowy religious group aiming to overtake London and do away with its oppressive, bourgeois tendencies. His partner—a giant, milk-swigging mute—doesn't appear to be human at all, yet serves as the detective's moral as well as intellectual compass.
The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes
Description #5, although just as odd and compelling as the others, is, in fact, a movie, not a book. The others, in all their glorious awesomeosity, are among my favorite reads.