This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A few books just defy description in some ways when you go to put your thoughts down in a review. This is one of those for me. I was tracking along with the story nicely, then it took a twist and finished with another twist (okay more twists than that, but it was three that tossed me off the track I was on) leaving me feeling somewhat off kilter. When I say this, I am not meaning to say this like it was a bad thing. It’s more of an attempt to describe what it felt like to read this book. I don’t think this book even fits into one genre or sub-genre description. I’ll call it a dark romantic comedy suspense.
The story focuses on characters who come together when a small town in Ohio puts on a play. The story starts slow and builds with an introduction to an array of characters and their expectation on the play being in town. There is the introduction of the ‘down at the heels’ Hollywood actor who reluctantly takes the leading role because it’s all his agent can get him. Adrian will be staying in the home of the premier family in Johnson which includes his leading lady, Eileen, her son, Kyle playing a bit role and the longsuffering husband and father, Dan Brockway, who practices law in his own firm and tries to support the artistic temperaments living under his roof with patience and understanding. Add to this the best friend law partner, Raul, who has family problem, the son’s girlfriend Erin who adds a much needed dose of normal, the town police character, and a few other assorted colorful characters. All sorts of intrigue is got up to by all the characters while the play is going on and gets even more exciting once the play is over and stuff starts coming out- affairs, office intrigue, kidnapping and finally the dispersal of all the players. This dispersal doesn’t end things, but adds to the drama until it winds down to the epilogue.
The plot of this one is difficult for summarizing because of how much was going on, but the basic overarching theme is simple as it explores what happens when a small town is stirred up in ways they couldn’t foresee by the arrival of a B-Movie actor to work a local play. The story shifts perspectives with many main characters’ viewpoints which were a bit out of the ordinary for me because I’m used to a few viewpoints at the most. I found that this worked just fine and the breaks helped determine there was a change. Later in the story, I did experience confusion when Dan had those moments when his imagination got the best of him and he had these daydream moments. I had trouble distinguishing between what he imagined and what really happened. I eventually figured it out.
Now as to the tone of the story, it runs the gamut between almost slap-stick funny to darkly funny to eliciting feelings of anger, sadness and pity. This was one where not one player comes out wearing a pristine ‘white’ hat though some wear whiter hats than others. They are flawed people that make mistakes and some of the mistakes have far reaching consequences.
I was so impressed with how the author wrote so many characters as leads and wrote them well. I found myself attracted or repelled, but never indifferent to them.
My favorite character was Dan Brockway and that was from early on. He’s this really down to earth guy with a great wit. He doesn’t toot his own horn though he could have because he is a success and well thought of by everyone, but his own family. He’s like a rock that gets battered in the emotional storms his wife, son, the actor in his home and the crook of a lawyer working at his firm whirl around him. I almost stood and applauded when he finally had enough and spoke his piece.
I felt sorry for his friend, Raul particularly when his son’s boyfriend was being such a jerk about things. I do get that Raul didn’t react well to finding out his son was gay or that he already had a partner, but good lord, the kid sprung it on the family in a way that he had to know would be the most brutal shock. Instead of easing his parents into the idea, he pushed them off a cliff. Now maybe I missed some nuances in the story, but even with Raul’s rejection that son and his boyfriend weren’t exactly reaching out with understanding either. Yes, I was a bit angry at some characters in those scenes.
Kyle was an interesting guy because he’s self-absorbed through most of the story, but then toward the end there is a glimmer of hope that he’s really starting to understand things. Maybe there’s hope for him yet.
I have to say that I found all the references to classic movies and plays a treat.
As to whom I would recommend this too? I would say it’s for the person who can appreciate dark comedy that’s light on suspense with several perspectives presented.