I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It seemed a parody of The Alienist was as relevant as one of those Mel Brooks movies that comes out several years after the movie they were mocking but this book was a lot of fun and goes off in a completely different direction. The story goes back and forth in time between the nineteenth century investigation of the fictional Thwacker murders and author Chris Elliott's attempts to investigate them. I don't want to ruin it but eventually it all comes together.
I especially enjoyed the complete lack of historical consistency where Boss Tweed, "Mayor" Theodore Roosevelt and Houdini interact. Sadly, this attitude may have bit Chris Elliott in the ass.
This book brings up the sad state of the comic novel. It seems to be a dying art form. The only other recent comic novel I can remember is Mike Nelson's Death Rat. Maybe you need to be a star of a cancelled TV show to sell one. Back in the day there used to be some very funny mystery writers like Craig Rice and Jonathan Latimer but I don't know about anyone like that today. Maybe all the talented comic writers are working in television and movies or writing self-indulgent blogs.