Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wild Thing, by Josh Bazell (hardcover, $25.99)

I loved Josh Bazell's first book, Beat the Reaper. I awarded it an MBTB star. It was original and funny. It had footnotes. Footnotes!

Unfortunately, in Wild Thing, the epilogue, footnotes, and appendix are far more interesting than the story, which continues the adventures of Beat the Reaper's Pietro Brnwa/Peter Brown/Lionel Azimuth, a mafia hitman/doctor/bodyguard.

Some kind of man-eating monster may be haunting a fresh water lake in the Minnesota wilderness. Azimuth is hired to protect a paleontologist who suspects the creature is a dinosaur. There was the potential for primo goofiness, but the writing was awkwardly coarse, and I really disliked Violet Hurst, the paleontologist and Azimuth's love interest. And who were all those superfluous people in the monster safari party and why should I care?

What did I like? Bazell has a wicked sense of humor and it still shone through, mostly in the aforementioned footnotes. The appendix gave the background for many of the side issues Bazell brought up in his story. Sarah Palin appears as a bizarre character in the story, and the appendix says she may be nuts but not quite in the way depicted in the fictional portion of the book. (I found that highly entertaining.) The epilogue should have been the story -- but then the book would have been four pages long. But they would have been four really good pages.

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