In Grimes's new sendup of a world she knows very well, Candy and Karl, hitmen with a difference-- they have scruples--once again venture into the murky Manhattan publishing scene. Read more...
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In Grimes's new sendup of a world she knows very well, Candy and Karl, hitmen with a difference-- they have scruples--once again venture into the murky Manhattan publishing scene. This time they come to the aid of a writer who is being sued by her unscrupulous literary agent, L. Bass Hess, a man determined to get a 15 percent commission for a book he didn't sell.
The contract killers join forces with publishing mogul Bobby Mackenzie and megabestselling writer Paul Giverney to rid the mean streets of Hess, not by shooting him, but by driving him crazy. They are helped by other characters from Foul Matter and a crew of new colorful personalities, including an out-of-work Vegas magician, an alligator wrangler, a glamorous Malaysian con lady, and Hess's aunt in Everglades City, who has undergone a wildly successful sex change.
This wickedly funny sequel to Grimes's bestselling novel "Foul Matter" is another character-driven "satire of the venal, not to say murderous, practices of the New York publishing industry" ("The New York Times Book Review").
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-11-18
- Reviewer: Staff
This addictive, whimsical follow-up to 2003’s Foul Matter from MWA Grand Master Grimes dives into the cesspool that is the New York publishing world. L. Bass Hess, a despicable literary agent, likes to sue his former clients, claiming, after they fire him, that they owed him a commission. Some authors have settled rather than fought, but not Cindy Sella, a kind woman with an interest in tropical fish who’s suffering from writer’s block. Meanwhile, members of a group led by “mega-bestselling author” Paul Giverney and including two hit men with their own idea of who is worth killing, a publisher, an editor, and a mysterious Malaysian woman named Lena bint Musah, decide to take Hess down. This requires a séance, an alligator, a number of tropical fish, and other esoteric items. The coup de grace alone is worth the price of admission. (Jan.)
More publishing and murder from Martha Grimes
Martha Grimes—an official Grand Master crime writer—has returned. After the author was “let go” from her longtime publisher, Knopf, she responded with a best-selling novel, Foul Matter (2003), that tackled (and tore apart) the publishing industry. Now in a sequel, The Way of All Fish, Grimes continues to eviscerate the rapidly changing publishing world with her quick wit and colorful cast of characters.
The Way of All Fish opens with novelist Cindy Sella having a very bad year. She’s paralyzed by debilitating writer’s block and is being sued by her former agent, L. Bass Hess, who will stop at nothing to ruin Cindy. While the lawsuit doesn’t have much basis (Cindy fired Bass long before he represented her most recent novel), it could drain her of all her time, energy and finances.
Enter hit men/amateur literary critics Candy and Karl, who first made their appearance in Foul Matter. Readers unfamiliar with that story might initially be put off by the speed with which Grimes dives back into its world. But it doesn’t take long to be amused by these Mafioso men, whose mission is not to snuff out Hess but to drive him to the point of insanity.
Still, The Way of All Fish isn’t just a takedown of a money-grubbing bad guy. It’s a clever romp from the Florida Everglades through the galleries in Soho all the way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Whether Grimes is concocting hilarious scenes featuring the stoner crowd of novice writers, alligator wrestlers and junkyard managers that Cindy happens to befriend, or characterizing nitpicky authors analyzing every minute detail of their contracts (including the font size!), this novel is a madcap mystery packed with delight. Perhaps what’s most enjoyable is the author’s rampant criticism of the stereotypical days of publishing, when two-martinis lunches were the norm. “All of this lunchtime drinking,” Grimes ponders. “How did people manage to work?”