Secrets of Men in a Lifeboat by Todd R. Baker

Secrets of Men in a Lifeboat

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A debut novel focuses on one man and the many possibilities in life.

Luke Morrow is a lovable loser. An advertising account executive who bet everything on an Internet startup––only to lose his marriage, reputation, and career in the process––he ekes out an existence in Southern California. His main joy in life comes from moments with his son, Trevor, a boy who loves nothing more than a day at the Manhattan Beach Dunes. As income concerns force Luke to downgrade his apartment (which requires him to euthanize his tropical fish, following the advice that it is best “to throw them hard onto the sidewalk, killing them instantly”) and pursue work far below his accustomed pay scale, will he ever rebuild his life? Just as he is at his lowest, the reader is introduced, thanks to a supernatural occurrence, to a very different Luke. What if instead of lovable, he was ruthless? An alternative Luke still possesses a history that encompasses a divorce and a son named Trevor, though differing circumstances allow the protagonist to gorge himself at the buffet of the superrich. From private jets to call girls to a nanny whose breast implants he pays for, this Luke is certainly successful, though hardly even likable. So will the real Luke Morrow please stand up? The author adeptly paints very detailed profiles of both Lukes, and readers should feel very much in the moment, whether the nice Luke is offering his old weight lifting gloves to a homeless veteran or the crass one is waiting impatiently to receive his new yacht. Though moments of the wealthy Luke’s life can become repetitive, such as a trip to Hawaii that carries the reader along for a catamaran ride and snorkeling with “red dragon wrasses and purple-tipped tangs,” the curious will wonder how it all ends. Surely somewhere between these contrasting Lukes, there lies an important lesson. Tightly written and as believable (in terms of characterization) as it is ostentatious (in terms of overall construct), the novel should cause many readers to fervently seek what that lesson might be.

Adroit in its storytelling, this book offers two finely drawn lives and a continuing mystery as to how they will overlap.

Publisher: Aqueous Books
Program: Kirkus Indie
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