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Ringer by Brian M Wiprud
Cover Artist: Stanislaw Fernandes
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312601898
Date: 19 July 2011 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Hispanic Morty Martinez once cleaned the houses of dead people in East Brooklyn until he found $800,000. Now he's living the good life in his beloved La Paz, Mexico. Father Gomez Entropica requests Morty fly to Manhattan and retrieve a holy ring that was stolen by billionaire Robert Tyson Grant. Robert has hired an inept, hatchet-wielding Mexican hit man, Paco, to kill his bratty stepdaughter Purity; her Lindsay Lohan-like arrests are making the headlines and devaluing the stock in his discount store chain Grab-A-Lot. Robert and his silicone-enhanced mistress, Dixie Faltreau, mistake Morty for Paco. Robert and Purity both plot to kill the other one and frame Morty. A scheming gypsy fortuneteller, Helena, and her beautiful niece Gina, a Hollywood stuntwoman, plot to steal the ring. Hilarious shenanigans and gruesome deaths ensue when characters attempt to steal the ring and murder each other.

If writing hilarious, offbeat crime drama was criminal, then Brian M. Wiprud would have to face the firing squad. Ringer made me laugh out loud from the beginning to the end. I have never had so much fun reading a mystery. Packed with raunchy, slapstick humor, Ringer is a zany, silly parody of the modern crime drama.

By far, Morty is the novel's most hilarious character with his constant misquoting of Abraham Lincoln and his advice on how to seduce women. For example, he claims that a woman will like it when a man compliments her on her shoes but will think he is gay. One of Morty's most hilarious, rambling digressions was when he explains women's obsessions with breast implants and other forms of cosmetic surgery. Likewise, Paco's methods of selecting a healthy hooker (and ensuring she isn't really a man) are rib tickling. However, Ringer is not all fun and games; there is some gory action, especially when Paco uses his hatchet for the first time. The slimy victim deserved it.

The writing style is extremely unique. At the beginning, the reader learns that the narrator is Morty who is penning the finalized Ringer on the eve of his execution for a crime he didn't commit. Also, Ringer is written as a type of screenplay, which is being mailed to a film production company, Sema Four Development Group. The unusual narration works rather well in that it contributes to the humor. It is not in script format, but is a novel where Morty is constantly providing screenplay suggestions that he gleaned from a how-to book on writing scripts. He mentions close-ups, cutaways, split screens, etc. Interestingly enough, Morty's hilarious debut in the novel Feelers was written as a confession to a priest.

Morty Martinez seems to be a likeable, kindhearted hero who has already donated $100,000 to the orphanage in La Paz. He also wishes to donate to the orphanage all his royalties if Ringer is made into a film. Like most heroes, his major weakness is beautiful women. Believing himself to resemble Ricardo Montalban, Morty has a lot of self-confidence when pursuing the opposite sex. Although he does admit it would be much simpler and less expensive if he allowed the hotel concierge to find him a prostitute. Nevertheless, Morty does experience true romance with the beguiling Gina. Together, they enjoy jumping from one exotic location to another, from the hustle and bustle of Uptown Manhattan in June to a luxurious mansion in East Hampton and finally to a tropical villa in Cabo San Lucas, located at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula.

If your brain is turning to mush from reading too many bloody, violent crime dramas (and sweet-infused cozies give you diabetes), then I highly recommend reading a mystery written by Brian M. Wiprud. The first one I read was Buy Back in which professional thief, Tom Davin, steals collectibles and sells them back to the owners' insurance agents for a finder's fee. Buy Back was funny and made me a fan of Wiprud. However, Ringer was downright hilarious. I definitely laughed out loud more when reading Ringer than I did with Buy Back. Perhaps because Morty is more of a comic character than Tom. On the other hand, Buy Back was definitely more violent and gory. Humor played a more dominant role in Ringer and it has compelled me to want to read the other novel featuring Morty, Feelers.

If you enjoy reading hilarious crime drama, then I highly recommend Ringer and all other novels written by Wiprud.

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