Monster by A. Lee Martinez (review)

monster-almartinez

This isn’t my first jump into the mind of A. Lee Martinez and most certainly won’t be the last. He’s a wonderful mix between Robert Asprin, Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore. The latter being reflected more in his latest book, MONSTER.

Monster has been peddling through life. His job is going no where, his girlfriend is a loveless but sex hungry succubus, and his assistant is a constantly correcting paper gnome from another dimension. Oh, and Monster is also cursed. Every time he wakes up he’s a different color which imparts some physical power whether useful or not.

Monster works the late shift as a cryptobiological control agent who contracts with local Animal Control to take care of situations that are a little stranger than a cat in the tree, or a snake in the drain. Despite most humans not recognizing creatures and things that go bump in the night, or wanting to believe in them, they do exist and it’s Monster’s job to capture and contain them before the human world is too inconvenienced.

Sure capturing monsters for a living might sound one big adventure after another, however, things have been slowing down and it really isn’t much different than rescuing a stranded cat or a stuck snake. It’s just the JOB. That is until Monster meets Judy who seems to have a bizarre knack for attracting cryptoparanormals.

Judy is somewhat in the same situation as Monster. Things aren’t going her way. She’s stuck in a dead end job as a late night clerk at a grocery, she doesn’t seem to have any motivation, doesn’t have a boyfriend so to speak, and has a judgmental older sister. She’s also a light cog. Judy is able to cognitively recognize monsters and magic when she sees them, but unable to retain the memory of the events or creatures. Unlucky for her most humans aren’t able to perceive these things and live their lives in blissful ignorance.

The meeting of Monster and Judy is the pretext that takes the reader down the road to an end of the world adventure as old as time itself. They just have to capture a few monsters along the way, and try not to kill each other.

Like with many of Martinez’s books, there isn’t much dwelling of the past, the story is about the here and now and the reader is carried through by the actions and interactions of the characters. Having read all of Martinez’s books this is one of his bests, it brings us back to the buddy book GIL’S ALL FRIGHT DINER which is still my favorite. I’d recommend this as a great summer read. It’s fun and doesn’t take itself too serious.

Beat the Reaper (review)

3173125It was by chance that I found Josh Bazell’s debut novel, Beat the Reaper. My local stores have a poor track record of picking up first time novelists’ books, so unfortunately a lot of my book buying is online. Fortunately while purchasing another novel Beat the Reaper was recommended. So I took a look at the description and the plot grabbed me.

Dr. Peter Brown is an intern at NYC’s worst hospital, Manhattan Catholic. He’s also a man hiding from his past under the protection of the Witness Security Program (WitSec). That past, a former mob hitman turned informant, catches up to him one evening while making rounds as he runs into a familiar face, a mobster dying from an aggressive stomach cancer. From there we are taken on a roller coaster ride of violence, love, loss and redemption through the eyes of Peter Brown aka Pietro Brnwa aka “The Bearclaw”.

Josh Bazell is a unique voice, mashing up a blood soaked crime thriller with a detailed medical procedural, that pushes you from cover to cover causing both awe and revulsion. I could not put the book down despite some questionable scenes that were both probable or improbable. My favorite bits were the footnotes through out the book that filled in the reader on medical knowledge. I will never forget ‘degloving’.

Beat the Reaper is a great novel debut from Bazell and I can only imagine how he will follow it up. This books is not for everyone with it’s violence and profanity, but with flavors of Chuck Palahniuk, Charlie Huston with a touch of Mickey Spillane it might have an appeal to those readers.

Related Links:
Visit JoshBazell.com
Buy the Book (hard bound)
Buy the Book (Kindle)