By Max Booth III
Pub Date: July 20, 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I think I better stop there.
Fortunately, I do not have to worry about dissing the author in this review. How to Successfully Kidnap Strangers does not suck. In fact, it is pretty damn good. The premise starts with the sudden and as yet unexplained kidnapping of Harlan Anderson, a somewhat antisocial and vicious reviewer of books he hate. Currently his insults tend to be directed to the writers of a tiny independent book publisher, BILF Publishing. Think of MILF and you'll get the full name. Harlan's kidnapper, Billy, is one of the writers, a tweeted out loser who seems to be tolerated only because he is the brother of one of the close-knitted denizens of BILF. Billy also manages to kidnap one of the witnesses of his assault on Harlan and pretty soon the crimes are piling up like methed-out dominoes.
How to Successfully Kidnap Strangers is a Keystone Kops version of a satire about the writers and readers in the independent publishing business. The characters are all weird, outcasted, maybe a bit repulsive, and instantly likeable. That even includes the serial killer. The action never stops but within it all we get a hilarious glimpse of the people who populate both the Bizarro publisher genre and its target population of readers. The conclusion appears to be that we are all sickos, but in a good way. if I had a issue with the book, it is that the author appears to be writing to a small audience who will get many of the in-jokes and understand the attractiveness of reading that which no one else in their right mind would read. But there is also a sense of slapstick humor in it that would appeal to those who like books with twisted humor or even movies like Scorcese's After Hours and the more mainstream The Hangover.
Max Booth III is writing about an environment he know, even if it doesn't usually involve disembodied heads. He is able to write about these characters that occupy a reality flirting with the underground and cultish, yet infuse them with enough real life and honest pathos that the uninitiated can even get it. There really are some other novels that have taken on the strange relationship between readers, reviewers and writers. Yet this one, while being one of the more outrageous, is the only one that seems to get all three . Humor is funny that way. it may be easy to make fun of something but it only really works if you love what you make fun of.