by Joe Taylor
Sagging Meniscus Press

"'And Dave’s old dad still breeds some now and then.'
C made to giggle at Hank’s sexual slip
'No, not more little Daves, but Dobermen.'"

In the Los Alamos desert where the atomic bombs were developed, a new threat is being created. A gravity-based weapon is being built on a secret base that can kill people in an instant and even threaten the environment. Hank and Dave are two simple guys working at the base’s loading dock who like the simple pleasures of motorcycles and women. The two women that have caught their eye are Loretta, who works on the base as well, and her friend Carmen who works secretly as a spy meant to figure out what’s going on in the desert. On their first date, they barely make it down the road before they find a bunch of teenagers involved in a car accident. Though they are able to save them, this disaster portends to what lies on the horizon.

As Hank, Dave, Carmen, and Loretta deal with a creeper half-brother of Carmen’s, a Mexican cartel leader is also flexing his muscle. Hank and Dave’s boss, who happens to be Carmen’s father, just might be behind a series of mysterious murders of young women around the area. An old Native American and a frisky centenarian know the history and the spiritualism of the land but might not be able to stop the impending disaster before it’s too late. On top of it all, the writer himself and his promiscuous muse are on a collision course with these events as the climax arrives in the form of an operatic performance of Othello in Santa Fe. The fate of the world hangs in the balance in small-town New Mexico in a way that it hasn’t since the days of Oppenheimer—if the heroes can stay focused long enough to save humanity.

While the plot as it’s outlined might seem like a hardcore spy thriller, the author’s character shines from the very first page to assure the reader this is anything but. This story is meant to be humorous and entertaining in a mostly classical way, inspired by the works of authors like Chaucer and Shakespeare—so much so, in fact, that nearly the entirety of this novel is composed in rhyming quatrains. In order to fit this structure, there is a host of colorful vocabulary choices and rhythmic flourishes that also manage to tell a complete and colorful story.

The characters are fun and flawed—in true classical form—and are as preoccupied with carnal pleasures as they are with stopping a potential doomsday device and tracking down a serial killer. Comedy and form are the primary objectives of this book, and it succeeds on those two fronts. Though much of the humor could be considered lewd and should only be consumed by mature audiences, attention and accolades should be given to the commitment to structure presented by the author here. This story rings true to its inspirations and feels like it belongs right alongside them, giving equal attention to plot and meter as well as high-brow structure and low-brow laughter. This book is lots of fun to read and requires some careful study to catch all of the entendre and subtle plays on words, so multiple readings are encouraged. Oozing with character and stuffed with charming characters, this story is a modern classic that should be enjoyed by many and studied by lovers of literature.

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