Take one mystery involving marijuana-cultivating siblings in Northern California. Add two dueling authors writing alternate chapters. Throw in a headless corpse, a cat with an unnecessary backstory, a mysterious plane crash, snippy footnotes, and increasing disagreement over the direction of the plot. Mix thoroughly.
This is the recipe for Heads You Lose, a new laugh-out-loud entry in the cozy mystery shelf of your local book store.
When siblings Paul and Lacey Hansen find a corpse on their front lawn one night, their first thought involves law enforcement, but not in the sense of “Quick, call the sheriff!” Instead, their first thought is, “Quick, get rid of this body so no one finds the pot plants in the basement!” And so they trundle the corpse into the back of the pickup and dump it in a remote area of the county. Cue one verse of “The cat came back, he wouldn’t stay away…” and the corpse reappears on the lawn within another day. This time they decide to hide their cash crop and call the sheriff.
Thenceforth, our hero and heroine get pulled in multiple misdirections depending on who wrote the chapter. Authors Lisa Lutz and David Hayward write notes to each other between chapters, and footnotes in the chapters. Said notes begin in a civil enough manner, but quickly become snippy, rancorous, and even downright rude, but they’re funny as hell, especially when they begin to reference events from their past romantic relationship which apparently ended rather badly….Ms. Lutz accuses Mr. Hayward of pretentious literary aspirations and Mr. Hayward dismisses Ms. Lutz’s chapters as “Nancy Drew escapades”. New characters show up as a deus ex machina with a tidbit of necessary information. Established characters are killed off in retaliation for events in a previous chapter. And just what exactly is going on with the folks in the assisted living facility and what about that plane crash?
All these questions, including whether or not the authors can satisfactorily finish the book with sanity and plotline intact, can be resolved by setting aside a few hours and tickling your funny bone by reading this highly entertaining and original novel.
Thank you to Goodreads First Reads Program for the opportunity to read this book. It was pure delight.