Category Archives: Humor
Join Heather Haven, author of the humorous mystery, Murder is a Family Business (MuseItUp Publishing, January 2011) as she virtually tours the blogosphere in May on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!
About Heather Haven
Heather is a story teller by nature and loves the written word. In her career, she’s written short stories, novels, comedy acts, plays, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and even ghost-wrote a book.
One of her first jobs as a writer was given to her by her then agent. It was that of writing a love story for a book published by Bantam called Moments of Love. She had a deadline of one week and then promptly came down with the flu. She wrote “The Sands of Time” with a temperature of 102 and delivered some pretty hot stuff because of it. Later on, she wrote short comedy skits for nightclub acts and ad copy for such places as No Soap Radio, where her love for comedy blossomed. Many of her short stories have been seen in various publications, as well as 2 one-act plays produced in Manhattan, one at the well-known, Playwrights Horizons.
Her novel, Murder is a Family Business, the first in the Alvarez Murder Mystery series, has been epublished by MuseItUp Publishing in January, 2011. The second in the series, A Wedding To Die For, debuts April 22, 2011. She is currently writing the 3rd of the series, and says they are a joy to write. Heather gets to be all the characters, including the cat!
About Murder is a Family Business
Just because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? The reluctant and quirky PI, Lee Alvarez doesn’t think so. But the 34-year old ½ Latina, ½ WASP and 100% detective has her work cut out for her when the man is murdered on her watch. Of all the nerve. Set in the present, Murder is a Family Business is the first in a series of humorous mysteries revolving around Lee Alvarez, a combination of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Janet Evanovitch’ Stephanie Plum, and rest of the Alvarez Family, detectives all. Seemingly light and frothy on the surface, the novel nevertheless explores familial love, the good, the bad and the annoying.
Completing the family is Lee’s Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day aristocratic mother, Lila; computer genius brother, Richard; beloved uncle “Tio;” and her energetic orange and white cat, Tugger. When this group is not solving murders, they run Discretionary Inquiries, a successful Silicon Valley agency that normally deals with the theft of computer software. The love, humor and camaraderie shared within this family are what set this series apart from others.
Read the excerpt!
The Not-So-Perfect Storm
“God, surveillance sucks,” I griped aloud to a seagull languishing on a nearby, worm eaten post, he being my only companion for the past few hours. He cocked his head and stared at me. I cocked my head and stared at him. It might have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but a nearby car backfired and he took off in a huff. Watching him climb, graceful and white against the gray sky, I let out a deep sigh, feeling enormously sorry for myself. I eyeballed the dilapidated warehouse across the parking lot that was hanging onto the edge of the pier for any signs of life. I didn’t find any.
I knew I was in trouble earlier when I discovered that this was the only vantage point from which I could stay hidden and still see the “perpetrator’s place of entrance,” as I once heard on Law and Order. That meant I couldn’t stay in my nice, warm car listening to a Fats Waller tribute on the radio but had to be out in the elements, hunkered down next to a useless seawall.
For three lousy hours, rambunctious waves from the San Francisco Bay made a break for freedom over this wall and won. Salty foam and spray pummeled my face, mixed with mascara, and stung my eyes like nobody’s business. Then the wind picked up and the temperature dropped faster than the Dow Jones on a bad day.
Speeding up Highway 101 toward Fisherman’s Wharf, I’d heard on the car radio that a storm was moving in. When I arrived, I got to experience it first hand. Yes, it was just winter and me on the San Francisco Bay. Even Jonathan Livingston Seagull had taken a powder.
I concentrated on one of two warehouses, mirrors of each other, sitting at either side of a square parking lot containing about twenty cars and trucks. “Dios mio, do something,” I muttered to the building that housed the man who had caused me to age about twenty years in one afternoon.
I struggled to stay in a crouched position, gave up and sat down, thinking about the man I’d been following. I was sure he was a lot more comfortable than I and I resented him for it. Two seconds later, I realized the cement was wet, as well as cold. Cursing my stupidity, I jumped up and stretched my cramped legs while trying to keep an eye on the door he had entered, lo those many hours before. With me being the only one on the job, I couldn’t keep an eye on the cargo bay on the other side of the warehouse but I felt pretty safe about it being a non-exit. Without a boat or a ship tied there, it emptied into the briny bay. The perp, thankfully, didn’t look like much of a swimmer, even on a nice day.
I tried to focus my mind on Mr. Portor Wyler, said perpetrator, and the singular reason for all my misery. I kept coming back to this burning question: why the hell was a Palo Alto real estate mogul driving 42-miles roundtrip two to three times a week to a beat-up, San Francisco warehouse on the waterfront?
After that one, I had an even better question: what the hell was I doing here? Oh, yeah. Thanks, Mom.
My name is Liana Alvarez. It’s Lee to my friends, but never to my mother. I am a thirty-four year old half-Latina and half-WASP PI. The latter, aforesaid relatives drip with blue blood and blue chips, and have been Bay Area fixtures for generations. Regarding the kindred Mexican half of me, they either immigrated to the good old US of A or still live in Vera Cruz, where they fish the sea. How my mother and father ever got together is something I’ve been meaning to ask Cupid for some time.
However, I digress. Back to Portor Wyler or, rather, his wife, Yvette Wyler. It was because of her I was in possession of a cold, wet butt, although I’m not supposed to use language like that because Mom would be scandalized. She had this idea she raised me to be a lady and swears her big mistake was letting me read Dashiell Hammett when I was an impressionable thirteen year old.
My mother is Lila Hamilton Alvarez, of the blue blood part of the family, and CEO of Discretionary Investigations, Inc. She was and is my boss. Yvette Wyler had been a friend of my mother’s since Hector was a pup, so when Mrs. Wyler came crying to her, Mom thought we should be the ones to find out what was going on. That didn’t seem like a good enough reason for me to be where I was, assigned to a job so distasteful no self-respecting gumshoe I hung out with would touch it, but there you have it. Leave it to my mother to lay a guilt trip on me at one of my more vulnerable times. I don’t know who I was more annoyed with, Mom or me.
Furthermore, I had no idea what my intelligent, savvy and glamorous mother had in common with this former school chum, who had the personality of ragweed and a face reminiscent of a Shar-Pei dog I knew once. Whenever I brought the subject up to Mom, I got claptrap about “loyalty” and “friends being friends.” So naturally, my reaction to the woman made me aware of possible character flaws on my part. I mean, here Mrs. Wyler was, one of my mother’s best friends, and I was just waiting for her to bark.
Read the Reviews!
“Call it a hunch or a nagging feeling, but I enjoyed the story and how it was told. I especially like the heroine and her wit and the funny way she expresses her thoughts, like comparing her mother’s friend to a dog.. LOL She’s also real. She gets saved, but also does some saving of her own. She’s not Super Woman, but neither is she is damsel in distress.
Something else that I really like is the way it educates readers about San Francisco. It mentions numerous historical places or streets with interesting facts about them. However, it is incorporated into the story. For example, I have been to Coit Tower, but I never realized until reading it in here, that the building was intended to look like a fire hose. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.”
–5 STARS. Tara, Book Babe Blogspot
“I just finished Heather Haven’s Murder is a Family Business and I was pleasantly surprised with the infusion of humor the author has added to this suspenseful read. I never figured whodunnit until Liana shared the culprit’s name with me.
This is the first book in the Alvarez Murder Mystery series. I cannot wait until March for the second , A Murder to Die For. Ms. Haven has found a new fan.”
–Dishin’ It Out, Ginger Simpson
“Heather Haven makes a stellar debut in Murder is a Family Business. Liana (Lee) Alvarez is a tough, yet senstive PI who works for her family’s business-a high tech PI firm in the heart of Silicon Valley. When Lee stumbles onto a murder in a warehouse at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, she calls upon her family–a blueblood mother, a computer-genius brother, and a good-hearted uncle–to solve the case. With an engaging protagonist and a colorful cast, Haven provides a fresh voice in a crowded genre. We will be hearing more from this talented newcomer.”
–Highly recommended. Sheldon Siegel, New York Times Best Selling author of Perfect Alibi.
“I fell in love with this book within the first few pages. Family plays a huge part in the plot, and what a family it is…For me, this was a great book. The writing was clever and I couldn’t stop laughing.
–4 Stars, One Hundred Romances Project”
Watch the Trailer!
Murder is a Family Business Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Monday, May 2nd
Interviewed at The Writer’s Life
Book reviewed at The One Hundred Romances Project
Tuesday, May 3rd
Interviewed at Blogcritics
Book reviewed at Ginger Simpson’s “Dishin It Out”
Wednesday, May 4th
Interviewed at The Book Connection
Book reviewed at Future Mystery Anthology Magazine
Thursday, May 5th
Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book!
Book reviewed at Single Titles
Friday, May 6th
Book trailer featured at If Books Could Talk
Book reviewed at Book Babe
Monday, May 9th
Interviewed at Examiner
Tuesday, May 10th
Guest blogging at The Hot Author Report
Wednesday, May 11th
Book reviewed at Life in Review
Thursday, May 12th
Interviewed at As the Pages Turn
Book Reviewed at Ashley’s Bookshelf
Friday, May 13th
Guest blogging at Review from Here
Monday, May 16th
Guest blogging at Murder by 4
Book spotlighted on Chelle Cordero’s Promo Page
Tuesday, May 17th
Book reviewed at Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem
Wednesday, May 18th
Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking
Thursday, May 19th
Interviewed at Paperback Writer
Book reviewed at Community Bookshop
Friday, May 20th
Book reviewed at The Phantom Paragrapher
Monday, May 23rd
Book spotlighted at The Plot
Book reviewed at Books R Us
Tuesday, May 24th
Character interviewed at The Plot
Book reviewed at Reviews by Molly
Wednesday, May 25th
Book reviewed at One Day At A Time
Thursday, May 26th
Guest blogging at Books, Products and More!
Friday, May 27th
Guest blogging at The Professional Writer’s Connection
Book reviewed at Daisy’s Book Journal
About Lisa Heidke
After growing up in Brisbane, Australia, Lisa Heidke ran away to Sydney, via London, and worked in book and magazine publishing. After many years living in the hip inner city, she woke up one morning to find herself married with three children and living on the leafy North Shore—much to her surprise.
Lisa wasn’t one of those people who had always wanted to write a novel…okay, yes, she was one of those people. But it wasn’t until a few years ago she seriously challenged herself to do something about it. In fact, it was during an alcohol fuelled New Year’s Eve party where friends had been discussing the merits of a newly published novel. Lisa had just given birth to her third child.
‘I could write that,’ she blurted to anyone who’d listen. She has long since forgotten the title of the book from that night, but the idea of writing a novel, quickly became her New Year’s resolution. The next morning her husband poked her in the ribs, force fed her two headache tablets and pointed her in the direction of the computer.
That was nine long years ago.
Receiving great reviews and a Pink Thong Award from the Chicklit Club as best Australian debut, Lucy Springer Gets Even was published in Australia in 2009.
Since then Lisa has written What Kate did Next (Allen & Unwin 2010) and is currently editing her third, as yet untitled novel, which will be published by Allen & Unwin in early 2011 You can visit her website at LisaHeidke.com.
About Lucy Springer Gets Even
Lucy Springer thinks she’s got it tough. She’s living through renovation hell, her two kids seem more challenging than ever, and her once successful acting career has been reduced to the odd commercial.
Then Max, her husband, absconds to Bali with an unknown companion and things go from bad to disastrous.
But Lucy doesn’t give up easily. Juggling increasingly chaotic building dramas, bewildered children, her crazy best friend-slash-agent Gloria, her ever ‘helpful’ mother and chasing after Max, Lucy Springer is determined to get her life on an even keel – and more.
Read an Excerpt
Last night my husband, Max, looked at me over his halfeaten Pad Thai and, in calm, measured tones, said, ‘I’ve had enough.’
I took him to mean he’d eaten enough dinner. He’s been on a health kick recently, prompted by watching The Biggest Loser.
I was preoccupied thinking about our two children, who’d left on a school camp that afternoon, and so didn’t pay much attention as he pushed his plate away, stood up and disappeared out the kitchen door. A few minutes later there was a clatter as he pulled his surfboard from its wall bracket. It’s been a long time since Max has hit the waves.
And besides, it was dark. I went to the window just in time to see him reversing his car down the driveway at considerable speed, his bright red board strapped to the roof-racks. Stopping briefly to check for oncoming cars, he screeched onto the road and accelerated off into the night.
It’s now three o’clock the following afternoon. He’s not back and I have a sneaking suspicion (well, not that sneaking really) that he’s not surfing because:
1. It’s a cold August afternoon.
2. Nineteen hours is a long time to stay out waiting for sets.
3. Max has been pissed off for some time now.
What Reviewers Are Saying
‘A sprightly bit of chick-lit…well crafted and lively…containing sharp insights…’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘Enjoy this sharp, snappy lesson in survival and success.’ Woman’s Day
‘This pacy and funny novel is genuinely witty.’ Sunday Age
About Graham Parke
Graham Parke is responsible for a number of technical publications and has recently patented a self-folding map. He has been described as both a humanitarian and a pathological liar. Convincing evidence to support either allegation has yet to be produced.
No Hope for Gomez! is Graham’s fiction debut. You can visit his website at www.grahamparke.com.
About No Hope for Gomez!
It’s the age-old tale:
Boy meets girl.
Boy stalks girl.
Girl already has a stalker.
Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.
We’ve seen it all before, many times, but this time it’s different. If only slightly.
When Gomez Porter becomes a test subject in an experimental drug trial, he is asked to keep track of any strange experiences through a blog. What Gomez isn’t ready for, is so many of his experiences suddenly seeming strange; the antiques dealer trying to buy his old tax papers, his neighbor boiling salamanders on his balcony at midnight, the super sexy lab assistant who falls for him but is unable to express herself in terms outside the realm of science.
But when one of the trial participants turns up dead and another goes missing, Gomez begins to fear for his life. No longer sure who he can trust and which of his experiences are real and which merely drug induced illusions, he decides it’s time to go underground and work out a devious plan.
Now, years later, his blogs have been recovered from a defunct server. For the first time we can find out firsthand what happened to Gomez as he takes us on a wild ride of discovery.
Read the Excerpt!
“Sure,” the nurse told me. “In fact, they’ve just started.”
“Great. So I can just walk in?”
“You can,” she said. “Who did you want to see?”
“A Mr. Miller. Mr. Joseph Miller. He was brought in two days ago.”
The nurse consulted her computer, frowned, then shook her head. “No, I’m sorry,” she said. “Mr. Miller is dead. He died late last night.” She looked up from her screen. “Would you like to see somebody else?”
“What? No! I really need to talk to Mr. Miller. Are you absolutely sure he’s passed away?”
“I can recheck if you want.” She typed away. “Sometimes this program mixes up some of the… ah, I see what I’ve done now.” She gave me an apologetic smile. “Stupid little me,” she said. “I had the stats of several files mixed up.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “So he didn’t pass away then?”
“Oh, no,” the nurse said, shaking her head, “he’s still dead, but he died this morning rather than last night.” She held up her hand with a small amount of space between her thumb and index finger. “You missed him by that much.”
“I see,” I said. “Does it at least say what he died of?”
She browsed her screen, bit her lip, and mumbled, “Yes, no, wait a minute. I saw something about…. Ah, yes. Yes, it does.” She looked up again. For a long moment we stared at each other. When I finally arched an eyebrow, she said, “Are you a relative? I’m not supposed to give out this kind of information to just anybody.”
I tried to think fast. I really needed that information, but I didn’t know Joseph other than from the trail waiting area. We’d never even spoken. Then, out of nowhere, the perfect answer just occurred to me. I told her, “Yes!”
“Okay then.” She was about to tell me when her face clouded over again. “You really should be getting this information from his doctor, though.”
I waved it away, told her it would be fine.
“Well,” she said, reading from her screen, “it says here he died of dehydration and malnutrition.”
“He was found passed out in his apartment,” I told her. “Apparently he’d been out for a while. Does it say what caused him to lose consciousness in the first place?”
The nurse perused the file for a long time, then shook her head. “No, sorry,” she said. “I’ll have to get the doctor for that. Just a moment.” She reached for the phone.
“That’s okay,” I said, not wanting to get into trouble for impersonating a relative. “I need to go. Pressed for time. Thank you.”
As I turned to leave, the nurse called after me, “Are you sure you don’t want to visit anyone else? There are some really nice people up on the second floor. Much nicer than Mr. Miller. They’d love to talk to you.”
Here’s what critics have to say!
“This book was very much a mystery to me as I read it. Most books you can make a pretty accurate guess at what is going to happen, this book left you very much on the edge as you get to follow through with this part of his life. For those who are mystery/suspense or even Medical Suspense this book would be perfect for you.. A very good quick read book. Well put together.”
–Star Shadow (read rest of review here)
“Extremely witty and clever writing that contains keen insights into human nature…”
– California Chronicle
“The antics in this book will leave the reader laughing. Graham Parke is a genius…”
– Readers Favorite
“A quick and unputdownable read that flies in the face of reason, and smashes against the wall of detective novels. It’s a Coens Brothers’ film formatted in book form.”
– Book Review
“No Hope for Gomez! by Graham Parke is a very funny book; a veritable page turner of nonstop laughs. Buy a copy and find out for yourself!”
– Reader Views
Richard: Noble, you’ve been the CEO of CommGlobalTeleVista for five years. When did you know that you were CEO material, that you were capable of running one of the largest, multinational corporations in the United States.
Noble: I’m sorry, did you say something? Oh, right, right. You want to know when I knew I could do my job, when I thought I was capable of it.
Noble: When I was seventeen, my father demanded that I get a job at our country club; he was afraid I was getting too soft, both mentally and physically. I’d recently had a check-up, and my mother told father that I weighed 226 pounds, that the doctor said I had the heart of a stroke patient. At 5 foot 7, I was quite portly, and even wheezed after chewing gum. As a matter of fact, I could no longer fit into my—
Richard: Noble, the question. When did you think you could run a major corporation?
Noble: Well, as I was about to say, when I got a job wrapping silverware in napkins in the club’s dining room, I was able to figure out a better, faster way to do it. My way required only two folds, then an overhand wrap. I remember some of the others telling me what a good idea I had, that they’d refrain from giving me a wedgie that night as a way of saying “thanks.” At that point, I knew that I could lead men. Well, that I could get a job leading men as long as my father, who owned several oil & gas exploration companies, would give me that job. Actually, I didn’t even think that I could lead men, per se, but I—
Richard: Noble, we have limited time—all of the sudden—and I’d love to discuss some of the mergers that have taken place—or that you would have liked to take place–under your rein as CEO. For instance, the merger of CommGlobalTeleVista with Home Depot.
Noble: (he chuckles, then wipes clean the line of spittle snaking down his chin) Well, first of all, that wouldn’t have been a merger, as you put it. That would have been a full-scale hostile takeover. I haven’t been into a Home Depot in years, but I hated the way those smug little lawn and garden nerds in the red vests would roll their eyes at my questions. I’m tellin’ ya’, we would have shitcanned the tools and lumber, then bundled plants and mulch with some of our long distance products. Brilliant. Killer stuff.
Richard: What aspect of being CommGlobalTeleVista’s CEO do you like the most?
Noble: I think that knowing we’re providing a service for millions of people—and businesses—is all of the job satisfaction I’ll ever need. And now that our billing is fairly accurate, it’s a tremendous source of pride in knowing that the payments we’re getting are actually what we’re owed. There were some years back there when I think some customers were paying for their long distance service with food stamps—and getting away with it! You can’t redeem those at the bank, mister.
Richard: And, conversely, what do you like the least about your job?
Noble: I don’t like all of the numbers. They give me a terrible pain (he taps above his right eye) right there. I resent all of the damn figures I have to keep up with. I really just like to talk. Reading, looking at numbers…that’s for the people on the finance floor.
Richard: Thanks for taking time out to share some of your thoughts with us, Noble.
Noble: Ah, not to worry, kid.
About Citizen Dick
Dick Citizen, an unambitious, twenty-five-year-old with an obsessive hatred for his first name, an uncanny ability to hit a golf ball long and straight, and a bizarre skeleton in his closet, stumbles backwards into the last place he should be—Corporate America; more specifically, he stumbles into a PR position at CommGlobalTeleVisa, the 3rd largest telecommunications corporation in the United States, its name synonymous with ineptitude and shoddy, C-level leadership.
For Dick, boredom soon sets in, so he writes farcical press releases—to pass the time and for the enjoyment of his co-workers—about outrageous, bogus product offerings CommGlobalTeleVista has in the works.
But when one of the press releases gets leaked to the press, Wall Street responds favorably to the moribund corporation for the first time in several years. And when Noble Tud, the sleazy, hirsute, golf- and prison-obsessed CEO discovers Dick is uncannily lucky—he’s had fourteen holes-in-one—he decides to carry out the press release’s claims that CommGlobalTeleVista is about to take over a large meat company. And if doing so edges their stock price north of $75/share, Tud will receive a $100M bonus.
About Richard Arneson
Richard Arneson’s thirteen years working in corporate America drove him up a tree—literally. Once he escaped the telecommunications industry after ten years of service, he built a tree house—ostensibly for his two young sons—installed electricity and cable TV, and set out to fix himself, deciding that dealing with the memories of working in the goofy-as-hell world of corporate America could only be accomplished by getting them down on paper. Citizen Dick is the result.
Arneson is currently working on his next novel, The Tree House, which, ironically, is not being written in his tree house but in the cab of his 1950 Chevy pickup truck. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and their two sons. He has plans to build a second story on his tree house in early 2010, one large enough to accommodate a baby grand piano and two dental chairs.
Visit his website at: CitizenDick.com
Read an Excerpt
After his closing prayer, Noble, a devilish grin on his face, sauntered over to Comstock. It was the first night Comstock had attended the meeting, and the first time Noble had worked up his awe-struck nerves to converse with somebody other than Kent, Tony, an effeminate youth minister from the Vacquelvail Bible Church, or the two guards who told each other bawdy, Catholic jokes in the back of the room.
“So…Milo…what are you in here for?” asked Noble with a slight warble in his voice.
Noble scanned Comstock from head to toe and shook his head. “They really wrap you boys up, don’t they? Are the long sleeves for the visitors?”
“No, we always wear— ”
“To cover up the tattoos, I bet,” said Noble, beaming.
“I don’t have any tattoos.”
“You in a gang, Milo?”
“My name’s not—”
“Did you say you don’t have any tattoos?” Noble couldn’t mask his disappointment.
Comstock shook his head.
Noble scratched the bridge of his nose. “But what about the tattoo guns—”
“What about them?”
“How do you get tattoos in here?”
“I wouldn’t know. I don’t have any tattoos,” said Comstock, calmly. “They wouldn’t really…work for me on the outside.”
Noble frowned, but quickly retrieved his diabolical grin. “What kind of weapons you see in here, Milo?”
“Shanks?” queried Noble excitedly.
“Shivs,” offered Noble.
“Excuse me?” said Comstock, offended.
Noble was getting impatient. His eyes widened. “Zip guns?”
“I have a Ph.D. in finance, sir,” snapped Comstock. “I was the president of a bank.”
Noble did a slow burn, then scurried across the room, grabbed Kent’s arm, and yanked him from his conversation with Tony. “What kind of prison is this? There are no shanks, shivs, or zip guns. No tattoo guns. No tattoos, Kent! Hell, Milo over there is the president of a bank!”
“It’s a minimum security prison, Mr. Tud,” said Tony, sheepishly.
Noble fumed. “Is this true, Battdarfen?”
Kent nodded nervously any time Noble called him by his last name.
Noble kicked the leg of an old, pale wood table. “I’ve gotta come to a bank president jail every month? I can find those guys at the club!”
“It’s only temporary,” said Kent, reassuringly. “Only until word gets out that you’re not a, well…”
Tony pointed at a tall, lean, gray-haired, dignified-looking man in his early sixties. “That’s my father, Mr. Tud.”
Noble studied Tony’s father and noticed his white, prison-issue outfit.
“He’s in here?” Noble sounded vaguely encouraged.
“What’s he in for?” asked Noble.
Tony grimaced. “He didn’t file taxes for a stretch there.”
“Taxes, eh?” Noble rocked on his feet. “How much time did he get?”
Noble turned to Kent and pointed at Tony’s father. “I could take him.”
“Damn straight you could,” assured Kent.
What Reviewers Are Saying
Recently I had the opportunity to review an advanced reader copy of “Citizen Dick,” by Richard Arneson, and I have to tell you that this is a seriously funny book! I don’t mean funny as in mildlyamusing or good for a chuckle or two funny. I mean the kind of spontaneous belly laugh evoking funny that caused my wife to banish me from the living room until I was finished reading it.
So what is “Citizen Dick” all about anyway? Well, that’s kind of difficult to explain. One way to describe it is to imagine what would happen if all the characters in Scott Adams’ comic strip “Dilbert” suddenly went on a nonstop alcoholic binge; all the while doing drugs and committing outrageous acts of larceny every chance they got. In other words, the book is about a corporate culture run amok.
The hero of “Citizen Dick,” if you want to call him that, is Dick Citizen, a serial loser who despised his first name for obvious reasons, and has proven over and over again to be unlucky in love, unlucky in the work place, and unlucky in life. In fact, his only redeeming quality was that he could hit a golf ball long and far; a skill that had thus far failed to win him fame and fortune. Meanwhile, he existed in a Bermuda Triangle of failure, wandering around West Texas with his friend Lennie, a perennial hippy, looking for a place to fit in.
When Dick arrived at the doorstep of CommGlobalTeleVista it was almost a sure bet that his job interview would be brief and unsuccessful. After all, he had no marketable skills and this was a tech company steeped in the culture of finance and engineering. But it didn’t turn out that way. The reviewer saw something in him that others did not and finagled him into the corporate communications department. This turned out to be a major mistake because soon thereafter, Dick wrote a phony press release announcing that his company was looking for a meat processing plant to acquire. It was meant to be a practical joke, but somehow the release was distributed to the press.
The next morning the parking lot was jammed with TV trucks and reporters, all wanting to know what CommGlobalTeleVista knew about the meat industry that the rest of the business community did not. Everyone viewed the press release as a fiasco and a major embarrassment; everyone but the CEO, Noble Tud, that is. Tud figured that if the speculative frenzy over the meat company acquisition could be prolonged, perhaps the company stock would rise to a point where he could retire a wealthy man. Accordingly, he promoted Dick to Vice President of Meat and instructed him to go out and find a meat company to acquire. Whether or not a suitable company was actually found, of course, was immaterial.
Richard Arneson develops his characters with a light and humorous touch, reminiscent of Larry McMurty’s Cadillac Jack. All are seriously flawed, yet likable. There is Lima, Dick’s constant source of unrequited love, a zaftig Latina barber who is clearly not the sharpest razor in the shop; Big Rod, a blustery senior exec who was previously aced out of the CEO job by Noble Tud and stands to win big if the meat scam works; the conniving Noble Tud himself, whose character faults are only revealed behind the locked doors of his executive suite; and, of course, Dick’s friend Lennie, who finally persuades the love of his life to marry him, even though she is a welder and he is highly allergic to metal. It’s all good stuff.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Citizen Dick” by Richard Arneson and hope it is released soon so that everyone else can enjoy it as well.
—Reviewed by Ron Standerfer for Reader Views