by Rich Leder
Kindle Edition, 377 pg.
Laugh Riot Press, 2016
Read: June 13 – 15, 2016
Let There Be Linda is hard to describe briefly — it’s like Eoin Colfer’s Daniel McEvoy books with a touch of magic, Elmore Leonard trying to write like Neil Gaiman, or is it Gaiman trying to write like Leonard? Leder says he’s inspired by Monty Python here — I think he’s close, but it’s more A Fish Called Wanda than Python (at least the way it comes out, maybe not in his mind).
The first few paragraphs are likely enough to make you rethink picking up the book (not because of Leder’s craft, but the subject matter). It took a force of will for me not to move on to one of the other 20 or so books on my TBR. Thankfully — oh, so thankfully — it took very little time after that for me to get over it. Within a few pages, Leder had won me over. Also thankfully, the antics of the character in the opening paragraphs were really toned down when he appeared in the future (when not toned down, he was at least behind closed doors).
Danny and Mike Miller are brothers, as close as Cain and Abel. Danny’s the attractive, lecherous, irresponsible, talent agent, who is always on the verge of success (even moreso, when he can’t get to the track or a phone to call a bookie). Mike’s his opposite, married, overweight, ultra-responsible, and an accountant enjoying success — and on the verge of a lot more. The one thing they have in common is that they’re devoted to their mother — Mike feels he has to be (and probably has some real affection for her), and Danny needs a place to live. On her deathbed, their mother makes Mike swear that he’ll watch out for Danny. She’s had a vision and something horrible is going to happen after her death, and she wants the two of them get through it together. Which is good, because both of them are going to need all the help they can get.
This horrible thing — or series of horrible things — will involve a very small pawnbroker/loan shark and his very large companion; a drug-addicted dentist, his plastic-surgery addicted wife, and their sometimes dead dog; a detective who wants to be a stand-up comedian; there’s a guy who thinks he’s a zombie, a couple of sometimes dead mothers, and a few other odd characters.
Oh yeah, and the girl who can bring dead things back to life.
Most of these characters owe the diminutive loan shark more money than they’ll be able to repay in years, more of them are being investigated by the Comic Cop, some of them are looking to Danny to make them money, and the dentist to care for their teeth — and . . . honestly, tracing out the interconnectedness of all these characters and plotlines would require one of those giant corkboards and colored strings that used to be on every TV detective show. But stranger. And Funnier.
Oh, yeah, and dead fish, dogs and people stop being dead.
This is strange, bloody, a little violent, and impossible to explain in a way that does it justice. You just have to read the silly thing. It’s one of the most unpredictable novels I’ve read in ages. It ties up all the important things, and doesn’t leave anything unresolved. But Leder doesn’t bother to answer everything — you’ll spend a few days trying to suss a few things out. I enjoy it when authors do that — but only on the unessential (but interesting) points. It helps the experience last longer.
I’ve spent a week trying to figure out what to say about this one, and I’m not satisfied with what I came up with. I liked the book, I recommend it — it’s amusing; there’s heart to it; there are characters that are unique, yet familiar; a world that you’ve not come across before — and a strange sort of crime story. It’s just the right mix of black comedy and criminal activity and family. If this is what all of Leder’s books are like, I need to read more of them.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I just wish it’d made more sense.