Gordon’s second crime novel fails to deliver on the promise of his debut, The Serialist (2010), though he can still grab the reader’s attention, as shown by the opening sentence: “I became an assistant detective, and solved my first murder, right after my wife left me, when I went a little mad.” Sam Kornberg—a former used-bookstore clerk, now unemployed, living in L.A.—is completely lost in the wake of his spouse’s departure, and he rapidly disintegrates into the epitome of the lonely single guy, breakfasting on peanuts and using napkins from MacDonald’s as toilet paper. His feeble attempt to find work leads him to PI Solar Lonsky, a behemoth who makes Nero Wolf look svelte. Lonsky hires Kornberg to follow the title character, Ramona Doon, and report on everything he sees her do. An early reference to a favorite movie telegraphs some of the plot surprises, but even without that spoiler, the storyline becomes less and less interesting. Agent: Madeleine Clark, Sterling Lord Literistic. (July)
From the Publisher
“Reading David Gordon is pure pleasure. He's one of the smartest, most stylish writers I've ever come across, a gifted storyteller whose work perfectly combines an incredibly sharp wit with moments of real transcendent beauty.” —Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles
This antic novel from Edgar Award finalist Gordon, whose 2010 debut, The Serialist, earned him the 2011 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, revolves around Sam Kornberg, a failed experimental novelist and unemployed used bookstore clerk. When his wife, Lala, leaves him, Sam signs on as assistant to detective (and lunatic) Solar Lonsky. His first job is to follow the mysterious Ramona Doon around L.A., but he is not very good at it, and fortunately she knows he is there. Things get complicated when he falls for Ramona, who seems to commit suicide and then seems to reappear, with a murderous gang after her. Gordon includes characters from every genre (underground and dark Coen Brothers films figure in the plot) and allows chaos and wit to unravel the plot.
Verdict Both funny and frantic, complex and crazy, Gordon’s work will appeal to readers of thrillers, cult film stories, and absurdist fiction.Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence
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A failed novelist on the verge of divorce is drawn into a murky murder mystery at the behest of an unconventional mastermind. I'm a Lebowski, you're a Lebowski, and fans of the famous Coen Brothers film may find many of their favorite aspects mirrored in this dark comedy, the sophomore novel from Gordon (The Serialist, 2010). The sad sack at the heart of this follow-up is Sam Kornberg, an unemployed bookstore clerk and creatively bankrupt novelist who is half out of his mind. His Mexican wife, Lala, is fed up with his tube-watching, couch-surfing ways and has flown the coop. Besides pining for Lala, the only thing that breaks up Sam's usual routine are movie-watching marathons with his bro Milo, including the classic The Big Lebowski, which serves as the spiritual touchstone for Gordon's novel. "It is a comedy of course, a light film compared to the Coen bros darkies, like Fargo or their great masterpiece, Miller's Crossing, but it is a sad movie too, sad in the way only comedy is sad, and brimming with the tender love we save for life's losers," Sam opines. In a rare deviation from his lethargy, Sam answers an advertisement titled simply, "Private Detective Requires Assistance." A phone call leads him to the inner sanctum of one Solar Lonsky, a Sherlock Holmes–like figure who displays equally bewildering behaviors. Without revealing too many details, Lonsky commands Sam to follow the titular Ramona Doon. After an ill-advised liaison with the girl, she throws herself off a cliff. Then we're off to the races as Lonsky and Sam pledge to solve the mystery of the girl. Gordon throws in everything but the kitchen sink, including a reclusive filmmaker of horrible art films, Mexican gangs and resurrected victims, but he somehow manages to set it all right in the end. An unpredictable farce.