A blog about writing and all things story…
Since I’ll be attending the Larry Brooks workshop (see post here) in Portland in April, I wanted to mention that I am a fan of Larry’s not because he tries to teach us how to write a great novel — because there are plenty of people who claim they can do that despite the fact they have never written one — no, I follow Larry because I believe in following ONLY instructors who walk their talk. And Larry does. Below is a rerun of a review I did on one of his novels, Deadly Faux. I follow Larry because he’s a great storyteller and can prove it.
In his new novel, Deadly Faux, author Larry Brooks takes his character Wolfgang Schmitt, ‘Wolf’, a cynical ex-undercover agent turned writer, turned reluctant undercover agent again, and drops him into a pickle barrel with some ugly cucumbers and a lot of vinegar.
Wolf’s foes and friends for this fun read consist of the Las Vegas Mafia (new and old school), the FBI (some real, some as fake as the Vegas strip) beautiful (though deadly) women, Joe Pesci type goons, incognito agents, spies and of course a hotel surveillance system to rival the US government and make what Orwell imagined in his novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four look amateurish.
Deadly Faux is a good-guy-bad-guy stew – who is who? Who’s doing what to who and why? And is that meat really someone’s finger? – seasoned with snappy dialogue, sarcastic humor, heart, and high stakes that just keep climbing. And Wolf is a Danny (Josh Duhamel in Las Vegas) like character who frequently finds himself in uncomfortable situations without his clothes.
At the core of this cool, slick though cynical, self-serving and always self-deprecating character is a lovable guy with a concern for family; his and someone else’s. Wolf’s mother is in a rest home and when he engages in her fantasies about being a cruise ship director, this reader fell in love; a cynic with a heart – my favorite kinda guy.
In the first few pages we meet some very loathsome thugs willing and able to commit monstrous crimes to get what they want. We also learn what Wolf wants and how he plans to get it, despite his mounting trepidations. The rest of the book reminds us, and Wolf, that when we make plans, God laughs.
Deadly Faux is a roller-coaster of drama, high stakes, comedy, and good-guy bad-guy warfare. Even the woman of his dreams becomes the shape-shifter of his nightmares.
The plot and intrigue never sags. Until the last few pages we never know if the Valentines – Wolf’s target in this game of who moved the cheese and killed the rat – are the good, the bad or the ugly and now dead. The sexy, often deadly and always surprising twists and turns are page turners that will keep you reading all night.
Larry Brooks writes with snap, crackle, and fizz and the book clips along at a satisfying mach speed. What stands out is the humor, regardless of situation, and how this writer writes about the opposite SEX.
Far too often male authors write about females in ways that turn this reader off, make me close the book, lose respect for that author and never buy their work again. Their use of words like ‘tits’ ‘pussy’ and all the other demeaning adjectives, often do nothing for a scene but vulgarize it. Sometimes those terms are suitable to the character, then fine, but when they aren’t they are the writer getting in the way of a good story or simply trying to be what he is not, longs to be, or who he truly is. Either way, it stops the flow.
Conversely, Larry Brooks manages to write sex and sizzle with some class, for example when he writes, “Her smile was subtle while her tongue did unspeakable things to an olive.” That’s sensuous instead of overtly sexual, which requires skill and imagination. His descriptions of women capture their essence instead of merely their cup size. For example in this comparison of two women in his life;
Carolyn was confident rather than flamboyantly needy, her breasts were God-given, rather than Dow Corning’s finest polypropylene. She was a dramatic brunette with midnight eyes that smoldered; Tracy, a chemically augmented blonde with ice-blue eyes that made men squint. Carolyn read Joyce Carol Oates and listened to Rachmaninoff; Tracy read Cosmo and still had all her Donna Summer CD’s. One was Chivas the other was Jack on the rocks.
This comparison of his ex-fiancé, Tracy and his hopeful future love interest, Carolyn reveal many things; his sense of humor, his now evolved taste in women and booze, he’s ready for a smooth scotch, a sultry woman with a brain, and he’s ready to be a grown up. All of this leaves a clear image of these two diverse women, but more, it reveals who he has become after some hard knocks, the wrong women and the wrong booze. It works.
Deadly Faux is filled with tension and humor. I laughed out loud too many times to count. The scene where he describes the ‘rules of the men’s room’ and the comments about ‘dicks the size of curly fries’, cracked me up.
No spoiler alerts here, all I’ll say is the climax, the big crescendo did not disappoint. Instead, it made me want to stand up and applaud.
As a writer, I’m thrilled to read a novel penned by a writing instructor who actually knows how to write a darned good book that entertains and shows us how it’s done.
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