The Right Stiff
by Sam Ingraffia
Powerhouse Publications

"There are a number of routes that one can take to get from LA to New Mexico."

Charlie McGinley fortuitously becomes a bestselling author with a detective series that he can't quite summon the energy to continue, despite his ex-wife's dramatic demands for alimony and his publisher's threats to sue for the return of advance royalties. His editor wants episode number six starring PI Johnny Dent, pronto. But Charlie has his heart set on being a serious literary author. His new manuscript about a Native American shaman has gained nothing but rejections. Never in his wildest dreams did Charlie ever think his wishes might manifest in the wackiest ways ever.

Just as he dashes from his dingy studio in his classic Corvette, he meets Ben Fox, a Navajo hitchhiker looking for a lift to New Mexico. Thus begins the adventure of a lifetime involving a remote desert town, a proposed but unwanted casino, Indian officials missing from the rez, a seedy cryonic preservation operation with extra bodies, a cranky sheriff with chronic low blood sugar, two desperate mobsters, and a reluctant love interest. The real-life elements converge to make another Johnny Dent novel possible, reveal Charlie's mysterious heritage, and bring his future into better focus.

Stories about struggling writers are sometimes as boring as watching paint dry or too sad to contemplate. But actor, director, producer, and writer Ingraffia makes the theme fresh again in this boisterous cross-genre novella. The lean, fast-paced writing and compact storyline will entice readers to absorb it in one continuous read. Though a plot-driven tale, the characters all have a modicum of depth and breadth despite their familiar stances. The settings are also vividly (though economically) portrayed. Best of all, this is a fun crime romp despite the otherworldly obstacles and potentially deadly consequences. Readers will reach the tale's conclusion in stitches, hoping to see Charlie McGinley stumble into more literary and film-worthy adventures.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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