No novel ever deserved the “couldn’t put it down” label more than Les Edgeton’s The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping. This black comedy thriller will keep you laughing your way through your fear from first page to last. Your guide through the amazing set of cons and mishaps is Pete Halliday, a major league pitcher (for a moment) fallen on hard times and looking for a score. Pete is earnest and funny and likable, but a more than a tad gullible. His partner/buddy keeps dreaming up new capers. Pete keeps falling for them. Complications ensue, and the results are both life-threatening (to the characters) and hilarious. The biggest caper of all is referenced in the title, and I’m not saying a word more about it for fear of spoiling everything. Read it to find out, and I’ll guarantee you’ll be ever and always glad you did. Pete’s cup of coffee in the majors happens with the Giants back a ways. It helps a bit if you’re a fan, as I am, so that when you get references to such as “Dusty” and “Kurt Manwarring,” you’ll know what ‘s up. However, it’s not at all necessary for understanding when and how the team dumps him nor will it dampen your laughs over the couple of the incidents leading up to the rejection.
The opening sequence that occurs on “A Streetcar Not Named Desire” is an unparalleled original, even for Edgerton. Throughout, we get how deeply both narrator (and, we suspect, the author) understand and care about the wonders of New Orleans. Again, I will say nothing more about the events and characters for fear of spoilage. In fact, it seems almost impossible to comment on Plastic and still keep the way clear and fresh for the uninitiated. I can comment on how deftly Edgerton intigrates a reference to his most excellent, must-read work, The Rapist, into the action. Again, you don’t have to have read The Rapist to love Kidnap, but if you have–and you should–you’ll enjoy it all the more. I can–and will–also say that if you’re up for a love story between a witty, low-level crook and a loveable prostitute who together get involved in slapstick felonies beyond any pale whatsoever, you need to get this one. You really, really do.