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Jeff Strand: Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary)

An author friend recommended this book to me saying that it was ‘suitably twisted’ for me to enjoy.  I don’t know whether or not to be insulted, but after reading the book, it seems that he may have great insight into my personality.

I hadn’t heard of Jeff Strand before, but after reading this hilarious story of graverobbing gone horribly wrong, I will be adding Jeff to my ‘gotta read’ list.

The main character is Andrew Mayhem.  He is a twit. A well meaning, unemployed, loves his children, danger magnet, twit.  You can’t help but like him and be appalled by his decision making at the same time.

The book opens with Andrew attempting to make a few bucks as a private eye.  He’s the type of detective that hangs out in treehouses attempting to video the neighbor’s husband in a compromising position; not exactly the ‘Poirot’ of the suburbs. Needless to say, it goes horribly wrong, Andrew has to replace his wife’s camera and he still needs some money to pay for other bad decisions.

Enter Jennifer. A svelte patron at a coffee shop who has an interesting offer. $20,000 to retrieve a key. Why so much? Said key is in a pine box, in the park, buried in a shallow grave. Oh yeah, Jennifer’s husband is in the box as well. Andrew and his best friend Roger decide to take the job (have I mentioned his decision making skills?)

Things unsurprisingly don’t turn out well, although they do turn out hilariously (if you’re the reader and not Andrew or Roger). The intrepid duo fail at retrieving the key and begin to investigate the murder of Jennifer and her husband. The couple’s business, ‘Ghoulish Delights’, makes home-made horror films and supplies a cast of characters that keep Andrew and Roger busy guessing who the killer could be. The killer continues, in macabre and gory style, and leaves tapes of his work for Andrew to puzzle out. He keeps it interesting by leaving presents on the hood of Andrew’s car, leading him on a wild scavenger hunt across town.  How much more complicated can life get for a guy who just wants to watch his kids and avoid getting a real job?

Andrew Mayhem is a great character, with a sarcastic sense of humor and a seemingly endless supply of bad decisions. The supporting cast of characters are well-drawn and provide a rich texture to this short novel (it’s 200 pages of fun). His wife is suitably distrustful of his ability to watch the children. Roger, his best friend, is dumb enough to follow along on Andrew’s chase.  His children are a perfect foil, and his daughter, Theresa, may be the most sarcastic character in the book.  There was a chuckle on every page and a splotch of blood on every second page.

Jeff Strand combines humor and dismemberment – how many people can do that and do it with style? His narrative flowed so easily that I read the book in a single sitting, laughing out loud in a number of places.  I must be sick, because two of my favorite scenes were the jack-in-the-box and the puppet show with Mr. Gaggles and Boo-Boo – pick up the book to find out how they turn out.

You can visit Jeff’s website at http://jeffstrand.wordpress.com/

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Categories: Reviews