A unique, original, supremely entertaining mystery with sharp sleuthing and a lot of heart…
Enduring friendship, the complexity of relationships, and the investigation into a businessman’s disappearance weave through this compelling mystery by Webster. Old time buddies and private detectives, Stan and Bud argue about anything and everything, while trying to solve multiple missing persons cases that span two decades. When Jake Christian, a local businessman, goes missing, Jake’s wife, Hannah, asks the detective pair to track him down. With their troubled history with Hannah, the duo is not very keen on the case, but Hannah knows how to get what she wants. As they begin their investigation, they unravel Jake’s connection to an old missing person case involving a mother-son preaching team, Sarah and Jeff Lamb. And that’s just the beginning of a series of unexpected events. The friends must sharpen their sleuthing skills or risk losing their lives. Wryly funny and still tinged with melancholy, Webster’s mesmeric tale unfolds via a thoroughly absorbing narrative that frequently switches between the characters’ first-person and third-person omniscient perspectives with intermittent flashes in the past that delves into Jeff’s story. Webster’s prose is taut and propulsive. The mystery at the heart of the novel is intricately constructed, the pacing is swift, and the whole thing is laced with heart and surprisingly, (considering the exploration of childhood abuse and trauma) warmth. Most importantly, Webster depicts the two main players authentically, showcasing Bud’s quirks and Stan’s palpable naivety. Their obvious differences and relentless bickering add to the novel’s lightheartedness. The secondary characters, particularly the endearing Melanie, the troubled Jake, and the flighty Hannah, are equally compelling. As well executed as Stan and Bud’s investigation into the disappearance of Jake is, the book’s immersion in religious exploitation and childhood abuse makes the greatest impact, lending complexity as well as a sense of melancholy to the narrative. The novel has a fun premise despite a hint of darkness to the story, and the pages turn easily as Jeff’s background is revealed, slowly turning into a heart wrenching story of severe parental abuse and neglect. This sometimes-amusing but often disturbing condemnation of how religion can be used as a manipulation tool and how children are neglected, ignored, and abused in the name of parental love, is deliciously readable and so very entertaining. One can only hope this is the beginning of a series.
American Nonsensical: A Farce, Both Tragic and True
Edward D Webster
Casa de Los Suenos Publishing
Pub date October 1, 2022
Price $24.95 (USD) Hardcover, $14.95 Paperback, $6.99 Kindle edition