A novel propels a reluctant liquor pitchman into a maelstrom of perilous situations populated by Drug Enforcement Administration agents, Mexican cartel kingpins, Guatemalan military honchos, and random beautiful women.
Boone Linsenbigler is a man who has spent his 40-plus years as a freelance writer, honing his fly-fishing skills, drinking excessive amounts, and concocting an artisanal elixir as an additive for mixed drinks. As the book’s first sentence explains: “I was thrust into moderate fame when a brand of cocktail bitters bearing my bewhiskered likeness—and name—went viral.” Linsenbigler’s contract with the multinational Amalgamated Beverages involves the clever branding of his “old timey”–cum-hipster looks with “cocktail-savvy” social media connections. Coached by his handlers to curb his coarser characteristics and to affect a courtly, dashing sophistication, Linsenbigler finds that his newfound prosperity enables him to indulge in his love of fly-fishing. While on a trip that involves fishing the sand flats off the coast of Mexico, Linsenbigler performs a drunken maneuver off of a hotel balcony that inadvertently results in the apprehension of a burglar. With some mild dissembling by Linsenbigler, followed by some hyperbolic embellishment by Terry Orbach, Amalgamated’s dogged publicist, the pitchman is touted as an international crime fighter. Soon, Orbach wants to capitalize on Linsenbigler’s heroic reputation. Thus the pitchman is covertly sent into harm’s way to apprehend dangerous criminals while seemingly savoring exotic fly-fishing excursions. To the enjoyment of readers, he is surprisingly adept at defying death and injury through his remarkable abilities to charm, fight, mix appropriate cocktails, and catch elusive fish. Of great pleasure are Wiprud’s (The Clause, 2012, etc.) inclusions of arcana about “drinksology” as well as fly-fishing. The hero offers: “Ever the iconoclast and contrarian, I prefer to make [Manhattans] with wheat-based bourbon as opposed to rye-based.” He later describes the art of catching a bonefish: “The fact of the matter is that you will miss hooking most bonefish if you raise the rod tip the way you do with a fish that turns away, so you have to consciously make sure you strip strike.” The book’s humor derives in part from dry asides like “As my father used to say: When your shorts ride up don’t try to fix the tractor.”
While this book delivers an engaging, occasionally silly pleasure cruise, the crime-fighting protagonist remains an indelible character, worthy of sequels.