Book Review: Let There Be Linda by Rich Leder
Number of Pages: 377
Expected Publication: July 1, 2016
Publisher: Laugh Riot Press
Leder’s black comic caper tells the tall tale of estranged brothers Mike and Dan Miller – accountant and con-man talent agent respectively – up to their necks in the virtual quicksand of LA’s San Fernando Valley during the hottest summer in Southern California history.
The root cause of their problems could be the missing seventy-five thousand dollars, or the sadistic, loan shark dwarf and his vicious giant, or the psycho comedian cop on the case, or the coke-snorting dentist, or the deranged zombie real estate developer. Or perhaps it’s the poodle – the poodle is suspect, no doubt. Or maybe it’s the grocery store checker who breathes life into death. Oh yes, it could be her too.
And so to repair the head-on collision the Millers have made of their personal and professional lives, the brothers summon their mother back from the dead to clean up the wreckage. But what the Miller men discover is that screwing with the laws of nature is forever and always a violent, bloody, hysterical, and hilarious idea.
NOTE: I received a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
“Are you insane?” Danny said.
“I think I am,” Gary said, walking backwards to the Impala, keeping his eye and his gun on Danny, “but I have to be. I’m a comedian.”
Rich Leder’s Let There Be Linda is a comedy thriller. I was not at all familiar with this genre (had to google just to be sure I’d have the motivation to read it), but I was definitely not opposed to giving it a try. In the end, I managed to squeeze it in as part of my bedtime story collection, and what do you know, I actually enjoyed it a lot.
To be honest, the plot confused me at first. It was not clear what the Millers’ problems were exactly and why they have to go so far as to summon their mother (aka Linda) back from the dead. However, after diving into about a hundred pages of this book, I finally saw the big picture. “The problem” does not exist. What replaces it are several predicaments that relate one character to another.
These predicaments are both disastrous and downright hilarious. The names of the characters and their situations were a little difficult to get into at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find yourself laughing a lot. I was most of the time torn between empathizing versus laughing at their circumstances because really, all I could every think about was that if this happened to me in real life, I would be so, so screwed. One other good thing about the characters is that you’ll never know which of them is bound to play the good cop or the bad cop. (case in point: I thought Gary Shuler was meant to play this savior role, but of course comedy would not demand a detective to play a typical detective role)
Really, everything about this story is crazy, and I guess that’s how it should be – The terrible combo of a giant and a dwarf who killed an innocent poodle to threaten a dentist to pay his debt (that was a mild spoiler btw), a conman talent agent who discovers talents and then asks them to pay up for the opportunity, etc. – A problem or an event in this book could be described as either really ironic or really freaky. Again, not a surprise as Leder did describe it as having a silly psychotic twist.
A word of warning though, anticipate brutal face offs and at times cruel treatment of animals. Yes, people. This is exactly why you call it dark comedy or black comedy caper/thriller.
“This is a shoal of two hundred red-bellied piranha,” Harvey said. He turned Gary’s head so that it faced him, and they were eye-to-eye. “They’re dangerous to all creatures, including man, when they’re hungry, which they are because I haven’t fed them because I like them to be famished when I do feed them; the carnage is spectacular.”
“Let’s give detective Shuler an up-close-and-personal look at our carnivorous friends,” Harvey said. “I imagine he’s never seen teeth like this.”
And no, I am not telling you what happens next.
The only problem I had with this book is that it took too long to get to the main course – summoning Linda. It took more than 200 pages; long enough for me to be tempted to just breeze through some of the chapters in the assumption that these were filled with uneventful situations. Of course, I didn’t, but yeah, I think it’s better to have a “lighter” reading experience (I’m talking about the number of pages of course) when trying out a new genre.
Now 3 stars is actually a “just right” rating in my standards at least. I didn’t give this book a higher rating because I’d like to suspend my judgment until after I’ve read another book of the same genre. Of course, there’s always the matter of preference. I didn’t find myself loving it so much as I would have if I’ve read a really good historical fiction. Again, this is a given.
Nevertheless, that was one crazy ride. It took me some time to finish this book not because I found it boring, but because I took my sweet time in absorbing the genre. I wouldn’t readily recommend it to everyone since most of the people I know prefer young adult and contemporary, but if you do love comedy/horror or if even if you just want to get a good laugh or if you are a curious soul like me, then add this book to your TBR. When you’ve done that, brace yourself because it’s going to be one hell of a crazy ride.
How many times did I write the word “crazy”? Hmmm. I loved this btw:
Yes, he was addicted to cocaine and Tanqueray, but he was mostly addicted to her. She was the best and worst and strongest drug he had ever taken.