Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Reviewing: "Loser's Town" by Daniel Depp
Former stuntman David Spandau now works as a private investigator. His view of Los Angeles and the machinations of Hollywood is a cynical one filled with black humor. That might be part of why his wife, Dee, left him. Or the fact that being a stuntman was the one job he truly loved and that just isn’t possible anymore. The spirit is willing but the body just can’t do the job anymore. Somehow he still does get on the horses to do rodeo work from time to time along with the private investigator work. Though he is thinking seriously about leaving Los Angeles once and fore all as the private investigator work is numbing him to what is good in life.
Walter Coren owns “Coren and Associates, Personal Security and Investigations.” He asked Spandau to come back early from his vacation to work the Bobby Dye case. Dye is a hot young commodity in Hollywood who got a death threat. At least, that is what Dye says though Spandau is pretty sure the death threat is fake. The more time he spends on the case though the more he realizes that Dye is at the center of something very nasty. The death threat might be fake but the blackmail is very real.
Written by the brother of actor Johnny Depp, it would be easy to try and link the characters and events in the novel to real life. Something he clearly tried to avoid when he wrote in the author’s note:
They are not They.
He, She, or It is not You.
Any resemblance in this book
To people living or deceased
Is purely coincidental
and will merely be taken by the author
as a tribute to his genius.
Also, because some folks insist on doing so anyway and thereby do a disservice to a very good book.
This first novel in a planned series is a dark and twisting read full of deceitful characters, greed, mystery and black humor. The author takes a clichéd stereotype of the broken and bitter stuntman and makes it work in a tale that doesn’t tie everything together in a nice bow in the end. The read isn’t linear either which will annoy some readers as folks appear in the book and then vanish for a number of chapters before reappearing. Much like real life, characters in this novel muddle around in various directions unsure of what is going on and who is responsible. That fact is reflected in the flow of a book that isn’t setup in the usual way these days of hero stuff in odd numbered chapters and villain(s) in even numbered chapters.
For some readers the above are flaws and therefore the book is not a good one. If those sound like flaws to you then probably this isn’t the book for you. The real flaw in the work is in regards to point of view shifts as, on occasion, the author shifts between characters in a clunky way. It isn’t often, but it does stand out when it does happen.
Despite that issue, the overall read is a very good one. Despite his connections, or maybe inspite of them, the work isn’t written in a simplistic easy to film in Hollywood manner. Instead, Spandau is an interesting and all too real character who spends quite a lot of time in his own head thinking which won’t translate easily to the screen. He is a complex man in a complex noirish style tale where nothing is happiness and light. Just like real life, things happen and not everything is easily explained or solved in this book. If you like your book dark and filled with black humor, occasional references to drugs and sex, plenty of street language and an overall attitude that considers everyone as crap, this could be the book for you.
Loser’s Town: A David Spandau Novel
Simon & Schuster
ARC received via the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2009