Heads You Lose, by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2011)
"From New York Times-bestselling author Lisa Lutz and David Hayward, a hilarious and original tag-team novel that reads like Weeds crossed with Adaptation.
"Meet Paul and Lacey Hansen: orphaned, pot-growing, twentysomething siblings eking out a living in rural Northern California. When a headless corpse appears on their property, they can't exactly dial 911, so they move the body and wait for the police to find it. Instead, the corpse reappears, a few days riper ... and an amateur sleuth is born. Make that two.
"But that's only half the story. When collaborators Lutz and Hayward -- former romantic partners -- start to disagree about how the story should unfold, the body count rises, victims and suspects alike develop surprising characteristics (meet Brandy Chester, the stripper with the Mensa IQ) and sibling rivalry reaches homicidal intensity. Will the authors solve the mystery without killing each other first?"
"Dave, I just finished the first chapter of a new novel -- a real crime novel with a dead body and all -- and I thought of you."
Maybe I've just fallen for the gimmick, but this was an OK (slightly muddled, as you'd expect) novel made much funnier and more interesting because of the meta-story. As noted above, the authors took turns writing alternating chapters -- without having agreed on a plot line or details in the beginning. Neither knew till they saw each chapter what his/ her cowriter would have done, and as you'd expect with exes, they don't always see eye to eye. They did establish a rule that neither could undo plot development established by the other, but they also have a good bit of fun seeing just how far they can push this rule. (Without spoiling too much, I had "He's really most sincerely dead" running through my head more than once.)
Other than that, the less said about the plot, the better ... but if it sounds funny, give it a read.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.