Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Jolly Good Fellow by Stephen V. Masse

jollygood2This is a gem of a Christmas book. It takes the most unlikely situation and turns it into a wonderful, touching Christmas story.A Jolly Good Fellow tells the story of a man who tries his hardest to be angry at the world and give it the finger but fails to be totally convincing in doing so. Duncan has had his eye on a young boy named Gabriel to use as a pawn to make some fast cash. His plan is to kidnap him and hold him for ransom....a ransom of $100,000. Gabriel is the son of a local politician who he knows has money. What he doesn't expect is that when waiting to kidnap the boy one day, the boy just gets into his car without Duncan doing anything to lure him in! Turns out that the kid is running away from home because he's unhappy there. Duncan tries to act like the tough kidnapper for a second, but sees that the kid isn't having it. He gets home and ties him up to a chair when the kid asks "why are you doing that?" He responds, "because I'm kidnapping you, that's what I'm supposed to do." We can see that this isn't going to be your typical kidnapping. Turns out that the kid doesn't mind being with Duncan so much and Duncan begins to like having him around too. They end up forming a real nice relationship while still having to maintain that Gabriel is indeed kidnapped. But of course, you can have a kidnapping and still buy the kid a Christmas tree, take him out to eat while he's disguised as a girl, and buy him lots of toys! This isn't the only dishonest thing that Duncan is up to. He also parades around as Santa Claus during the day, pretending to be collecting money for charity. This is his main job right now. He comes off with a heart of gold with this job as well with people often telling him that he's the best Santa Claus that they've seen. It seems like Duncan just isn't cut out to be a bad guy. His motivation is an anger at his past. He's been screwed over too many times like when his last girlfriend dumped him because she got pregnant by someone else. He feels like it's his turn now. This was such a great book. It reminded me a lot of Nick Hornby's writing. It seems like something he would write. But I don't think the story could've been told better than in the hands of Stephen Masse. I wish there were more stories of Duncan and Gabriel, but there's not much room for a sequel. Stephen Masse was awarded the Independent Publishing Book Award for this novel and rightfully so. Stay tuned for Friday when I'll have an interview posted with Mr. Masse.

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