A New Mexico spy and her friends stumble upon a murderous plan involving a dangerous new weapon in Taylor’s (Let There Be Lite, 2014, etc.) novel in verse.
Taylor’s unique novel, written almost entirely in rhyming poetry, is largely narrated by a character also named Joe Taylor (more affectionately known as Our Beloved Writer). His muse, Trixie, aka “Dixie” or “Pixie,” reads his pages and offers up effervescent, sexually charged critiques. His story is about four friends, their families, and associates in Los Alamos, New Mexico (“the town that spawned the atom bomb”). Dockworker Hank Riser has just bought a new, two-story rancho, and he’s anxious for his girlfriend, Carmen Brown, to move in. Hank has an inkling that she’s a spy; as it happens, she’s investigating a cartel that deals in science instead of drugs. Somehow, the tech for a new weapon, the “G-string gun,” has been stolen by the cartel and is being used to kill off young women. Along with friends Dave McDowell and Lorrie Taylor, Carmen and Hank aim to crack the case, helped along by a wacky “Morguemeister” and his medical examiner/assistant. Some shady characters drop off tickets to a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Otello in Santa Fe, which may hold the key to solving the case. Taylor’s story in rhyme is definitely an adventurous narrative in terms of structure and style, although it works best when the action is more grounded. Joe’s scenes with Trixie are the most helpful for understanding a narrative that’s a bit of a riddle. Carmen is an intriguing character, tough and determined, though she feels underdeveloped, as chapters sometimes end in a cursory manner (“No sense in ending this chapt. with a turd”) before they make complete sense. The playfully vulgar and sometimes-witty story does have a plot, but it’s often buried under tangents, asides, and extraneous dialogue. Acronyms and abbreviations for characters’ names also tend to be confusing; the helpful character list at the end should have been placed at the beginning.
An ambitious novel whose frantic pace and quixotic nature obscure its plot.