Sunday, 23 June 2013

Cadaver Blues by J.E. Fishman – Book review

Publisher’s write-up:

‘When smoking-hot Mindy Eider walks into the office with a foreclosure notice directed to her elderly Uncle Gunnar, cynical debt man Phuoc Goldberg at first sees her as little more than the source of this month’s rent payment. But beguiled by Mindy’s beauty and innocence – not to mention her breasts – Phu gets sucked into playing detective, venturing from a small town near Wilmington, Delaware, to the snow-choked Pocono Mountains to dank mushroom farms closer to home. At every turn, his unkind prejudices are proved wrong: his assumptions about young blacks, about beautiful women, about fat people, and about his own demons. And before long, Phu finds himself seeking much more than debt relief for Mindy’s wayward uncle. In fact, the debt man won’t end this fiasco looking for cash relief, but for cadavers.’

Cadaver Blues is the first book featuring J.E. Fishman’s character Phuoc Goldberg (Phu) – an American of Vietnamese origin, debt consultant by profession based in Delaware, someone who is very sensitive about his name, owing to its actual Vietnamese pronunciation and also has a problem in controlling his temper. He is approached by Melissa Eider (Mindy), who drove all the way from Minnesota in search of her elderly uncle Gunnar Karlson – who has defaulted on his debts and his bank is about to acquire his house. Phuoc initially is only interested in his consulting fee to fulfil his obligations regarding the rent but eventually, he gets more involved and even starts playing detective, with him trying to find Karlson along with Mindy.

This story was narrated by Phuoc – from a first person perspective and I enjoyed that, as I don’t come across such books too often. Moreover, I found this to be a different kind of detective story, with hardly any professionals involved which was rather interesting. Like in any other good mystery novel, it had a fair share of twists and turns, very good ones, if I may say so. The most enjoyable part of the whole thing was Phuoc’s character – his sarcasm and cynical approach did contribute to lighter moments, even during the more serious phases of the novel. The change in Phuoc’s attitude was shown well – one significant thing I found, as mentioned by the publisher – ‘his assumptions about young blacks’, I’ve always believed that nobody is going to change just because you tell him /her to dismiss their racist thoughts, instead, they certainly would, if they’re pleased with the attitude of even one member from the community / race. Apart from that, I enjoyed the description of the various settings in the story, especially the mushroom farms.  

However, on the other side, the starting in this book was slow. Yes, Mindy was introduced immediately and Phuoc also tried his best to retrieve the house but, for the first 150 pages, I felt that it was going nowhere. I don’t know whether changes have been made in the subsequent publications but I did find a couple of editing mishaps in my edition. Moreover, I found Mindy to be a way too compassionate, which at times, didn’t sound very practical. 

Cadaver Blues has laid a strong foundation for the Phuoc Goldberg Fiasco. However, I’m not sure whether in the sequel (Ruby Red Dead), Phuoc is going to have a challenge in his profession or again, somewhere outside the scope of his work. I’d just have to wait.

I award good books, or sometimes even average books, a six but since I enjoyed this book far more than so many of those books for which I’ve given a six rating, I’d give it a seven on ten.

Rating – 7/10

Have a nice day,

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