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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz + David Hayward

Genre:Mystery, Crime
Publication.Date  April 5th 2011
Where to get: Barnes and Noble, Amazon,
Published By:  Putnam Adult (Penguin)
WebsiteLisa Lutz, David Hayward
Heads You Lose
My review copy:Received from the publisher (Thank you!)

     New York Times-bestselling author Lisa Lutz conspires with-or should we say against?-coauthor David Hayward to write an original and hilarious tag-team crime novel. 
     Meet Paul and Lacey Hansen: orphaned, pot-growing twentysomething siblings eking out a living in rural Northern California. When a headless corpse appears on their property, they can't exactly dial 911, so they move the body and wait for the police to find it. Instead, the corpse reappears, a few days riper . . . and an amateur sleuth is born. Make that two.

     When collaborators Lutz and Hayward (former romantic partners) start to disagree about how the story should unfold, the body count rises, victims and suspects alike develop surprising characteristics (meet Brandy Chester, the stripper with the Mensa IQ), and sibling rivalry reaches homicidal intensity. Think Adaptation crossed with Weeds. Will the authors solve the mystery without killing each other first?

"Well, he's definitely dead," Paul said.
"Thanks for confirming my diagnosis," Lacey replied. "Now what?"
"I'm thinking."
"That could take forever."
"Do you know him?" Paul asked.
"He's missing a head!" Lacey shouted. "How the fuck do I know if I know him or not?"
"Good point."
He pulled off his gloves and told his sister to do the same.
"What will we do with all this plastic?" Lacey asked.
"Burn it," Paul replied.
"We can't burn plastic. Do you know how bad that is for the ozone layer?"
"Our DNA is all over the gloves, Lacey. The ozone layer can suck it."
Walter looked at him for a while. Then said, "Look, Paul, I'd say you should probably just let it go, but that's what everyone says. The part they leave out is that it doesn't mean shit if the thing you let go of isn't ready to let go of you"

     Dangerously witty and deliciously captivating, Heads You Lose is a true must-read for anyone who enjoys reading well written and witty crime novels.

     Let me start off by explaining how this book came to existence. Sometime in Spring of 2009, Lisa Lutz --the bestselling author of crime series, the Spellman Files-- decided to try something different. She thought it would be fun to collaborate on her next novel with another writer. But then it turned out that all the writers she asked were either truly busy or claiming to be busy, so she ended up working together with David Hayward,  a freelance editor and poet, who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend.
They agreed to write alternating chapters - Lisa got the first one and all the odd numbered chapters, and David got the rest. They were not to outline or discuss the plot, but to go with the flow and construct the plot chapter by chapter, as it goes.
Are you intrigued yet? Well, it gets even better! Not only we get a brilliant plot filled with twists and turns, but we also get a great insight into the whole writing/creating the storyline process. In between the chapters we get the back and forth notes between the writers, containing snarky comments and mean (but hilarious!) jokes. All that often on a very personal note. There are also the footnotes in which the authors comment on each other's work. These, too, will crack you up!

     And then there's the craziness of the plot...
It's undeniably a big part of what makes it so fun to read this novel.
Imagine detective Poirot from Agata Christie's novels trying to solve a murder mystery. Got it? Now instead of the dignified, elderly detective imagine two siblings, Paul and Lacey, whose main income comes from growing pot in their basement. Yup, these are our protagonists!

     The story kicks off with Lacey discovering a beheaded corpse in their front yard while taking out the trash. Not wanting the police poking around their pot-growing haven, Lacey and Paul decide to dispose of the body on their own. They pick a good spot to drop off the headless corpse - far enough from their house not to be connected to the murder, but at the same time frequently visited by hikers, to ensure the body will eventually be found by someone.

     Imagine their shock when the corpse shows up on their property again few days later! And like that wasn't enough, having a "second look", Lacey recognizes it as her former fiance! It soon becomes clear to Paul and Lacey that there's no easy way out of this. With people dropping dead all around them and the number of suspects growing every hour, Paul and Lacey will have a hard time solving the murder case and staying alive.

     Phew! What a crazy ride that was! I didn't really know what to expect from this book, as I haven't read any of Lisa's previous novels and wasn't at all familiar with her writing style. Neither did I know the collaborator, David Hayward. Needless to say, I wasn't in the least prepared for what I was about to be served!

     Brilliant in so many ways, Heads You Lose is a witty, snarky, unpredictable and absolutely fascinating novel. The plot turned out to be fantastic, full of twists and turns, gripping from the very first pages. Both authors are phenomenal at building up the tension. The conclusion of the story will leave you totally dumb-founded. I didn't see it coming at all, and trust me when I say, neither will you!

     As much as I loved the plot, I think what I enjoyed the most was the insight into the writing process that Lisa and David's correspondence provided. I loved the back and forth between them. A lot. Even though, at times, it seemed a little bit overdone or perhaps staged, nevertheless they had great negative chemistry (is there even such a thing as negative chemistry? oh well, now there is!). Their comments where hilarious, I was laughing out loud many times (much to my husband's bafflement!).

     In conclusion, Heads You Lose is no doubt a prodigious and highly entertaining read. And a memorable one, too. I do hope Lisa and David will decide to collaborate again. Would love to see it turned into a series of books!



Lauren B said...

Hi Evie,
I love your blog and I've given you an award!

Amelia said...

Sound like a very original and entertaining read! I can't wait to check it out, thanks for your review!

Oh, and the cover looks so cool!

bookittyblog said...

OMG!! I just got this book a few days ago and started reading and stopped reading it cuz I had to review another book but after reading your review I want to read it more! I love Lutz sooo much! You have to read The Spellman File you will love it!

Ishita aka Fishy said...

This sounds like such a different book from what i usually read :) doesn't sounds bad especially the way to describe it :) but idk if it's a book for me

Nikita said...

Sounds original and interesting in a strange way. :D Good review, but I don´t think it is book for me.
Nikita :) :)

aurora M. said...

By the cover I would not pick this one up but after reading the review I may have to give it a read. Thanks for giving this book the attention it appears to deserves. Thanks

Krystal said...

I loved the quotes you chose-hysterical. I think I have to try this one!

therainhouse said...

Their partnership reminds me of Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's collaborations.

Thanks Evie! This sounds like a fun read...

Yvonne said...

I wouldn't normally go for crime books but after reading your review, this book has me intrigued. Sounds like an entertaining read

FairyWhispers said...

wouldn't have guessed this title was a story,


Munnaza said...

This book sounds intense and exciting, but what I'm really interested in is Lisa and David's correspondence. I've rarely seen books written by two authors work, and this one sounds like it works extremely well, and the authors and their writing have chemistry. Definitely will be looking into this. Thanks for the review!

Jaime Lester said...

Never heard of this one before, but I think I might just have to read it. A corpse that disappears and the reappears? Mystery? Pot-growing twentysomethings? Yep. Gotta read it! Thanks for the review Evie!~

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