Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, April 2011
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Humor
Where I Got It: LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program
My Rating: 4.5 stars
About The Book, Part 1
This book is about Paul and Lacey Hansen, pot-dealing sibling orphans in their 20s who are barely making a living in the rural Northern California town of Mercer. When a headless body shows up on their front lawn, they decide to deal with the problem themselves. After all, why invite law enforcement into your home when you’re growing illegal plants in the basement? Of course, when the corpse reappears a few days later, they realize that maybe they can’t make the problem disappear quite so easily. Yet neither one shies away from a little amateur sleuthing.
About The Book, Part 2
This book is about when Lisa Lutz (author of the comedic Spellman crime series) and her ex-romantic partner David Hayward (poet … who was published in Harper’s once) write a book together—alternating the writing of chapters. The initial discussion about the “ground rules” and the between chapter commentary (as well as the reading author’s footnotes on chapters) are all included for our reading pleasure. For me, the interchange between the authors was the best part the book. I never grew tired of hearing Lisa and David settle past scores, argue over plot points and exact revenge for artistic decisions made in previous chapters. From Lisa’s repeated “assassinations” of David’s most loved characters to the ongoing refusal of both authors to deal with the mysterious plane crash that takes place early on in the book, I was rolling in laughter at the interchange between the two authors and could not wait to find out what each chapter would bring and how each would deal with the various plot points they threw at each other.
One of my favorite parts was Lisa’s ongoing criticism of David’s use of “10 cent” vocabulary words and overly esoteric plot developments—prompting him to write an entire chapter in what Lutz terms “Dick and Jane nonsense.” As the characters of Paul and Lacey increasingly begin to represent our authors, we see various nonsensical character traits emerge for the various supporting players. For example, Lisa gives Paul a stripper girlfriend who limps after experiencing a pole-dancing accident. David retaliates by making the stripper (Brandy Chester) have a genius IQ. Another favorite moment was when David introduces a doppelganger cousin to replace a favorite character that Lisa has killed. Lisa fights back by offing the cousin, who David then revives at the hospital, and who is then killed again by Lisa.
In short, the book is a whole bunch of fun. Forget about the mystery part (although, despite all odds, I think they managed to tie everything up fairly well), which is a bit of mess. The real pleasure of this book is the collaborative (and often combative) approach that authors took while writing it. The give and take between the authors is hilarious, witty and endlessly amusing. I found myself on pins and needles between each chapter—not so much for the “suspense” of the mystery—but for the suspense of how each author was going to screw over the other.
It is fun to to see two obviously intelligent and funny people spar in a creative way, and Heads You Lose is a true gift to readers everywhere. (And you can be sure I’m going to check out Lutz’s Spellman series.) Highly recommended! Go and get it now (it is being released today, April 5)… you won’t be sorry!
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