Monday, August 10, 2015

Finally Got To: "The Drummer" by Anthony Neil Smith

Finally Got To: The Drummer by Anthony Neil Smith, 2006, 9780976389521.

Smith was kind enough to send me two copies of The Drummer. One copy was for me and the second copy was intended for the library. The second book was chewed on by the USPS and I banked my own copy for later. I started read this during last week's vacation to New Orleans St. Louis and finished it during WEBELO camp outside Black Earth.

Lead character Merle has been hiding out in New Orleans. About 15 years ago Merle did a poor job of faking his death and split on his debts to the IRS and his successful hair metal band, Savage Night. He landed in New Orleans five years ago, changed his name to Merle, and really likes living there.

When the lead singer from Savage Night shows up Merle gets itchy and angry. That old singer, Todd, has been struggling professionally. Todd wants Merle to tell everyone Merle's not dead, deal with the IRS, and restart the band. A comeback album and tour would bring fame to Todd and money for everyone. Merle wants no part. Merle wants anonymity. Merle wants to beat the stuffing out of Todd.

Merle leads Todd down a dark alley and stops just short of choking Todd to death. Merle agrees to meet Todd the next morning. Todd does not show, Merle bribes his way into Todd's hotel room. Todd is flat on his back, barely breathing, surrounded by empty liquor bottles, and alongside a suicide note. Merle thinks to finish off dying Todd by suffocation, instead he pockets the suicide note that mentions Merle and takes his sweet time calling EMS before leaving. Todd dies.

Well, the box is opened and trouble is coming. He is suspected of murder and avoiding the police. No one can give definite evidence it was Merle at the hotel and Merle tries to keep that up. Merle spends the rest of the novel trying to contain his real identity and figure out who else is trying to out him.  

Merle loves his bible-thumper-no-sex girlfriend but has been lying to her for a year or so. Merle relies on his best pal. Merle deals with car thieves hoping to recover some docs out of Todd's stolen car. Merle gets mugged under odd circumstances. Merle has to fess up to Bible-Thumper-No-Sex Girlfriend. Merle has to fess up to Best Pal.  Someone is pulling strings to keep the suicide in the news and also listing Merle as alive and well, but who? Sounds like we need some flashbacks to Savage Night's sudden rise and implosion under massive fame, drugs, disastrous love triangles and tax cheating.

Can Merle find out and still stay in New Orleans? Of course not, this is a Smith novel.

1. Set in 2004 with jokes about "A hair metal band? Why couldn't you [Merle] have been in Oasis?"
2. There were a couple bits that were very funny and I cannot recall what they were.
3. Merle is like a lot of Smith's characters: poorly restrained sexual impulses, anger issues, big ego. Merle thinks everything should be about him. He's a lousy boyfriend and a weak friend. He's out for himself, knows it, and hates himself for it.
4. I brought two books to WEBELO camp. Camp was only three nights and I knew I would not have a lot of time to read. I finished Drummer at 10PM Saturday and went to sleep. On Sunday I pulled out A Twisted Thing by Mickey Spillane and realized I already read the damn thing.
5. EDIT: Yes, I enjoyed the novel. I forgot to write that. I'd give it a 4/5 of Amazon.
6. Actually, I really need to start give ratings and comments on Amazon.

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