A terrible crime occurs in Elect H. Mouse State Judge.
Two young girl are abducted and held hostage by a band of religious fanatics. The girls' anxious father, a politician on the eve of an important election, has reasons of his own not to go to the police, so he hires a pair of shady private eyes to investigate. All the elements of a classic noir—except that the kidnapped girls are mice, the abductors are Sunshine Family dolls, and the detectives are Barbie and Ken.
Part 1970s childhood dreamscape, part Raymond Chandler, this is a world both familiar and transformed. Sex shops, illicit affairs, spies, political hypocrisy, and dangerous zealots may coexist with Barbie and Ken's acrobatic poolside sex, but the crises of faith that Nelly Reifler's characters face are as real as our own. Elect H. Mouse State Judge is an unusual—and masterful—blend of irony and tenderness, and a moving portrayal of a father trying and failing to do the right thing.
“Nelly Reifler’s joyride of a first novel, Elect H. Mouse State Judge joins the pantheon of morality tales centered on rodents—Aesop’s Fables, Maus, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. Her slim volume sets itself apart from the pack with a riveting detective story that remixes Dashiell Hammett and Toy Story, along with a freakish sense of humor. This kooky playground disturbs all the more for its seeming innocence . . . Far from cartoonish, the mice and dolls that people Reifler’s novel transcend their plastic or furry bodies.” —Zyzzyva
“[Reifler] has skillfully packed big elements—childhood, suspense, sex, longing, violence, religion, love . . . [She] easily works on many levels at once, mini to meta. Within this dollhouse-scaled world dwell very human extremes . . . Part Beatrix Potter, part Kafka, it’s a total delight.” —Chronogram
“To Kafka’s ‘Josephine, the Mouse-Singer’ and Bolaño’s ‘Police Rat’ and Mrs. Frisby and that one A. M. Homes story where the kid gets it on with a Barbie doll, we must now add Nelly Reifler’s first novel. It’s a fast-paced caper—politician’s kids get abducted, private eyes go searching—but with a major twist: H. Mouse is a mouse, and both perps and dicks are dolls. Shrewdly, Reifler serves this concoction neat; what could have been cheap thrills give way to weirder and more surprising effects.” —Garth Risk-Hallberg, The Millions