This third installment of a comical series features a talented yet troubled hero.
Meet Murphy Drummer, a man so unlucky that he causes chaos wherever he goes. Murphy has had a “jinx” on him all his life. The problem is simple: Bad things happen to people who are around Murphy. Murphy’s mailman, for instance, must take great precautions whenever approaching the Drummer household, and visitors, according to house rules, must don protective gear. For the most part, Murphy remains on his own property in Eureka, Kansas, with his wife, Joy Daley-Drummer, and their daughter, Phaedra. Over the years, Murphy has used his seclusion to perfect a great number of skills and has become known as the Hobby Guy. He can do everything from using a dowsing rod to catching fish with his bare hands. These are abilities he will have to employ in his latest escapade. Joy’s parents are part of a secret CIA group known as Granola Team Six. While they may appear as harmless old hippies, they are in fact highly trained government operatives. After they are taken captive in South America, Murphy is called on to help save them. Will he prove himself valuable or will his jinx destroy the mission before it begins? Laskin’s (The Amazing Adventures of 4¢ Ned, 2019, etc.) novel is wildly fantastical from the outset. There is everything from an inconceivably advanced helicopter to a tale about a “hoodoo priestess” that put a curse on one of the main characters due to a disagreement over blackjack. The whimsical nature creates a pleasant romp through the jungle that, thanks to the immense knowledge of Murphy, could lead in myriad directions. But certain portions are less delightful. A subplot about Phaedra’s troubles at school (she is jinxed much like her father) does not add much excitement. The fact that Phaedra speaks with missing front teeth (as when she tries to say “something breaks” and instead utters “thumthing breakths”) proves more grating than humorous. Yet on the whole, the zaniness never lets up. The fun comes in seeing just what, in the crazy world of Murphy, will happen next. The answer, it often turns out, is pretty much anything.
A lighthearted and amusing, if somewhat strained, Amazon adventure.