Friday, June 17, 2016


TROUBLE BREWING by Edward Winslow (2011)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Dave's no superhero, even if he does have a very unusual talent. But when a major New Zealand crime lord comes looking for two million dollars that Dave's wife embezzled, he needs to learn to act like one.

This book surprised me: a self-published novella about a pretty ordinary guy who hates his job and has a bizarre tea-related 'superpower' that he ends up using while trying to survive the criminal underworld his incarcerated wife has pissed off. 

I really didn't know what to expect, but what I found was something delightful, quirky, and very readable. 

Winslow does a terrific job bringing us into Dave's world, quickly setting things up and populating it with interesting characters and lurking danger, so that it's easy to suspend our disbelief and just enjoy the ride, even when things get a little loose or farcical. Dave's a likable if wimpy guy in a miserable situation - largely thanks to his imprisoned wife Belinda's actions, but perhaps he was just fooling himself all along about their good life together, and his obliviousness and lack of spine has played a part too.

When some dangerous people Belinda bilked in a Ponzi scheme demand their money back, Dave has to find some backbone, otherwise his shitty life could get a whole lot worse. With some help from new friends, the tough-as-guts ex-con Liza and her flamboyant friend Jean, Dave discovers that his ability to heat or freeze tea may actually be far more useful than just a weird party trick.

Can Dave recover the missing money and save himself from a fate worse than death? 

This is a self-published book, and there are moments here and there where that shows (it could have done with an editor to just tweak or tighten little things up), but overall I came away pretty impressed, and with I largely had a big smile on my face while reading. Winslow had me turning the pages, wanting to know what would happen to Dave, and just how he, Liza, and Jean would get themselves out of a series of sticky situations. It's just a fun wee story. 

The short length of the tale perhaps explains the way the plot leaps a little at times, and Dave goes through a fair character transformation in a short period, but for me at least Winslow did enough to keep me engaged and suspending disbelief that I was happy to go along with it all to the end. 

Overall, a fun, leaning-to-farcical novella that flows along smoothly, with some interesting and memorable characters and a nice tone - light-hearted, almost comic crime. 

Craig Sisterson is a features writer from New Zealand who writes for publications in several countries. He has interviewed more than 150 crime writers, discussed crime fiction at literary festivals and on radio, and is a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards and the founder and Judging Convenor of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. Follow him on Twitter: @craigsisterson 

No comments:

Post a Comment