The novel opens with a mini mystery– Philip Marlowe and Colonel Kurtz speculate on the owner of an alligator wallet left in their office by an unknown visitor. Wowing Kurtz with his extraordinary common sense, Marlowe opens the wallet and looks at the drivers license to discover that the wallet belongs to DH Lawrence, which provides a convenient entree into the history of British pornography.

Entering the office and opening a laptop, Lawrence plays for Marlowe and Kurtz an 18 1/2 minute porno film that features an unknown actor portraying Richard Nixon. Playing the role of Rosemary Woods in the film is the tragically beautiful porn star Tess Baskervilles, who mysteriously disappeared without a trace four years ago.

Lawrence maintains the film was shot within the last year because the director has carelessly left on the bedside table an anachronistic copy of Hillary Clinton’s recently published memoir Hard Choices. Slowing down and stopping the action, Lawrence zooms in to Tess’s right ear, which because of a childhood dog attack, has a jagged lobe. “See, it is she,” he stiltedly says. Oddly enough, throughout the film the only stitch of clothing the actress wears in one red Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star hightop.

Agreeing to take the case, Marlowe and Kurtz quickly discover that Charles G Koch and David H Koch, the billionaire Republican political operatives, were the producers of the film and the screenplay was written by Peggy Noonan, the first Bush’s head speechwriter, the author of the famous “ten-thousand points of light” slogan and the less famous line “Oh, Dickie, lick me,” from the Nixon/Woods porno vehicle starring Baskervilles and the mystery actor portraying Nixon.

Once in Washington, DC, where the film was shot, Kurtz discovers a state of emergency as someone has released scores of filthy pigeons in Battery Kemble Park. Kurtz meets potential suspects of the release in the park, two aides of Senator Ted Cruz, and decapitates them, placing their heads on stakes to demonstrate that he is “beyond their petty, lying morality.”

A series of mysteries transpire in rapid fire succession. Condoleezza Rice is seen skulking around the grounds of 3067 Whitehaven St NW, the home of Bill and Hillary Clinton; Kurtz spies a lonely figure keeping watch on the Clinton mansion; and after being threatened with blackmail by Marlowe, Robert Koch reveals that the porn film was directed by David Mamet.

Doing his best to unravel these threads of the mystery, Kurtz dispatches a camera drone to discover the lonely figure is none other than Marlowe himself.

Marlowe has discovered through his observations a mysterious woman being secreted in and out of the Clinton’s house, whom he suspects is none other than Lady Gaga, nee Tess Baskervilles. The Kochs, Cruzes, Mamets, and Noonans have only been pawns in the Clintons’ machinations — both Bill and Hillary have been Tess’s lovers, and unknown to the right-wingers, it was Slick Willie himself disguised by his eerily accurate Nixon make-up who played Rosemary Woods’s lover in the 18 1/2 minute porno film.

In a dramatic final scene, Kurtz and Watson use the Obama’s dog Sunny to track down Tess/Gaga using the scent of the sister shoe of the red Converse sneaker worn in the film.

Despite state-of-the-art burglar alarms and secret service agents, Marlowe and Kurtz gain entrance into the Clintons’ house where they discover Tess Baskerville/Gaga in bed with Condoleezza Rice.

They snap photos and threaten to sell them to the tabloids unless Condoleezza apologizes for her role in the Iraq debacle, which she hesitantly does by admitting “mistakes were made.” They then confront the Clintons who are upstairs scrutinizing poll data. Bill and Hillary brush off the two detectives maintaining the whole fiasco was a vast rightwing conspiracy and rattle off the names Koch, Mamet, Cruz, Noonan to prove their point.

Back in LA, Marlowe ties up a few loose ends with DH Lawrence while Kurtz writes a high-strung novelization of the porno film, an account that throbs with eloquence.


If you enjoyed this write-up, be on the lookout for the next exciting product from Mash-up Lit, The Hound of the D’Urbervilles.

Tess of the Baskervilles: A Literary Mash-Up

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