1991 ST LOUIS — Leo Kraszewski aka Dingus has come to visit his old army pal, Francis Lenihan, now a busy process server. It’s been 18 years but Dingus is still the same—impulsive, foolish, quick with a wisecrack, uncouth yet worldly.
Dingus leans on Francis to accompany him to Southern Illinois, the town of Bunting, where spoils from World War II—the Speer Collection—may lie hidden in a peculiar private museum. Francis declines and soon, after causing trouble in Francis’ ribald world, Dingus finds himself hitchhiking in the Illinois cornfields—an odyssey which has him nearly sucked into a tornado, having to deal with a suicidal Indian, a malevolent sheriff’s deputy, and a crew of wastrels who inhabit an old general store.
The story has legs as Dingus aka Hercules is given a task by Anselm, the museum’s curator and a stand-in for King Eurystheus of yore, to retrieve a stolen historical artifact. Dingus does Anselm’s bidding, at a dear price, and of course it’s never enough. Meanwhile Dingus’ court date for cannabis distribution looms. Will Francis wrangle a lawyer for his penniless friend? Will Dingus sort through various confusing clues and get his mitts on the treasure? And more importantly, when will he stop itching?
An eclectic cast of characters join in—a high school detective, the next Nancy Drew; a raffish voodooist; a scholarly recluse whose solitude is rudely interrupted, a bawdy masseuse, an angry rapper and his entourage, and the beer-soaked regulars at Murphy’s Tavern in Dogtown St. Louis. The usual suspects in an unusual story.