August 29, 2012

Rabid Reads: "Suckers" by J.A. Konrath and Jeff Strand

Suckers (an Andrew Mayhem/Harry McGlade Thriller)
by J.A. Konrath & Jeff Strand
published in 2010

At first glance, I suspected this might be a precursor to the vampire gorefest that was J.A. Konrath's and Jeff Strand's collaboration with the likes of Blake Crouch and F. Paul Wilson, Draculas. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I found instead was a comedic romp featuring two of their long-running characters, Harry McGlade (via Konrath) and Andrew Mayhem (via Strand). So, after setting aside the mild disappointment from having my preconceived notions dashed, did I enjoy this novella?

In a word, yes, though I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

The story involves the two title characters meeting up by accident and then joining forces, in a manner of speaking, to investigate a house of reputed vampires. Andrew Mayhem meanders through his neighbors yards in order to get just the right kind of pasta sauce for his domineering wife, while Harry McGlade is investigating a missing daughter who has taken up with a vampire cult. The two men do not get along at all upon meeting, which prompts some quick bursts of violence, one-liners, and high jinx. Then they run afoul of the people inside the house they break into and things go from awkward to downright awful.

The story relies so heavily on the sarcastic humor that it saturates the pages. Some of the jokes evoked audible laughs, others the roll of eyes. What the story does manage to do is prevent things from becoming predictable. No sooner will some new threat enter the scene, then the plot will veer sharply and send Harry and Andrew careening into a new hair-raising ordeal. It provides for a quick little thrill ride, but ultimately disposable.

On top of Suckers, the e-book also includes a few short stories featuring Harry McGlade and Andrew Mayhem in their own aolo adventures. Hasry's lascivious and self-absorbed demeanor is grating most of the time for me, while Andrew's sadsack dimwit routine can run a little thin at times, but for readers that are already familiar with these two characters, the stories provide entertaining romps. For newcomers to the characters like me, it's going to be hit or miss. I will say Harry McGlade is well suited to the short story, because I'm unsure I could hack an entire novel of his demeanor. I don't necessarily need to root for a character to be engaged by the story, but when the character becomes more annoying than engaging, I'm not drawn to read more.

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