Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Heads You Lose

By Lisa Lutz and David Hayward

This is a book with a little bit of a different premise. We, the readers, are to be let in on the writing process of a mystery story. Novelist Lutz and poet Hayward, who used to be together, are going to share the writing of the book jointly, each submitting alternating chapters with critical notes by the other contributor.
So the story starts out with the two main characters, Lacey and Paul, brother and sister small-time pot growers in a small California town, discovering a headless body of a man on their property.
Not wanting the police poking around because of the pot-growing, they wrap the body in a tarp and haul it out to the countryside. Problem solved. But then the body returns. And Lacey, upon a closer examination, thinks it is the body of her ex-boyfriend, shady meth dealer Hart. Now she decides she wants the police involved, so she and her brother clear all the marijuana plants out of their basement and into a willing friend's place. And then Lacey calls the police.

The book teems with loads of suspicious characters and shady operators. The two authors argue back and forth about each other's choices in their chapters and leave each other snarky notes and footnotes. They variously try to sabotage each others choices by amending and overwriting and just plain killing off the characters they don't care for. At one point Hayward introduces a stripper girl friend for Paul and Lisa then portrays the stripper as a clueless fool at which point Hayward reveals she is actually a secret intellectual. Hayward also introduces a hippy-type fellow named Terry who Lisa kills off later on. Hayward then brings out a cousin of Terry's who looks and sounds just like Terry, named Harry, and Lisa then kills the Terry clone off in short order.
The suspects multiply as do the bodies, but the ending ties it all together for the most part, so neatly that I think the two authors had it planned out beforehand and all that nonsense and arguing about where the story was going was fake.

I did like the ending of the story but I can't help but feel that all the rivalry between the two authors was just a load of hooey -- a gimmick to help sell the book. But even though it felt like I was being conned, I still enjoyed the story a lot.

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