Monday, March 21, 2011

Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward

Heads You Lose
Once upon a time Lisa and David were an item. A thing. A couple. Now they're not. But they are still friends, mostly. One day Lisa has an idea: Why don't I send David this first chapter of a crime novel and propose a collaboration? He's a poet, so he could certainly use the money he'd make by collaborating with me, the bestselling author of the Spellman Files novels. 

So she did, and they did, and Heads You Lose is the result. There were a few ground rules. They would communicate only in writing, they would write without an outline or foreknowledge of what the other was going to do, and they wouldn't edit each other's work.

Gimmicky? For sure. A bit precious? Without a doubt. Hilariously funny? You betcha.

So here's the story, as outlined in that very first chapter. Lacey and Paul Hansen are twenty-something siblings, orphans, who live in Northern California on the property they inherited from their parents. There they have a small but moderately lucrative pot growing operation. Lacey, taking the trash out after losing a coin toss one evening, finds a headless body on the front steps. As they're packing the body up to dump it off the property--hey, they'll be good citizens and put in an anonymous call to the police...but they sure can't have the cops stomping around the grounds now, can they?--Lacey recognizes the body's watch. It belongs to her ex-boyfriend.

The story gets weirder and more and more convoluted as the two writers work hard to make each other sweat, introducing new characters out of left field and plot twists that make even the reader wonder how the next guy's going to make it work. The comic mystery that ensues is surprisingly effective if completely off the wall. Each chapter is footnoted with snarky comments from its reader, and is followed by a back and forth of letters between Lutz and Hayward. Ultimately, although this work is novel as novelty, it also serves as a kind of post-modern/absurdist commentary on contemporary genre writing and its plethora of factory-style collaborations (James Patterson, Clive Cussler, and Tom Clancy--cha-ching!--come immediately to mind).

Disclosure: In accordance with new FTC guidelines for bloggers I must let you know that I received a free review copy of this title.  My reviews are just that: reviews.  They are not endorsements, nor am I ever compensated for posting my opinion.  


Gabby A. Phillips said...

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Tristan Bruce said...

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Jules (The Great, The Good and The Bad) said...

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I'm another new follower, I have just started out this month on my book blog.