Thomas Holbrook's Reviews > Wild Thing

Wild Thing by Josh Bazell
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Mar 01, 12

Read on March 01, 2012

Josh Bazell’s first book, Beat the Reaper, was one of the brightest literary surprises of 2009, as its Best Seller listings indicated. To write a book that is as engaging, entertaining and surprising as was the first takes a level of maturity and imagination that is rare in the realms of “writer types.” Mr. Bazell does an excellent job of resurfacing Pietro Brnwa (a.k.a. too many cover names to mention here) after he leaves the Manhattan Catholic Hospital under . . . ah . . . hum . . . a forced relocation. When we see him again, he is a doctor on a cruise ship for two years but that tenure is soon to end. He is called to the residence of “Rec Bill,” a reclusive billionaire who wants him to accompany his (very lovely) Paleontologist, Violet Hurst, as she travels to Minnesota as part of an expedition to prove the existence of an ancient “monster.’
The premise of the plot is that our hero will protect Dr. Hurst from: 1) being eaten by the monster or 2) deceived by a clever fraud and/or 3) falling for someone who is not Rec Bill. The expedition will cost one million dollars IF there is a monster found, nothing if it turns out to be a hoax and, to keep the entire pact “honest,” there will be an unbiased referee who will keep things on the “up and up.” The discovery of the referee is worth both the price of the book and the investment of time needed to read it. Add to this (at point’s hilarious) bizarre safari the reality that “Dr. Azimuth/Brown” is an ex-hit man who worked for the Sicilian and Russian Mafia before turning state’s evidence, a risky career move, after he learned of their betrayal of him and one can expect a read that cannot be anticipated. Dr. Azimuth is a dedicated physician, but he holds to his sociopathology like a security blanket.
This plotting is engaging. Having read his first book, I expected it to be filled with surprises, shocks, blood and more laughs than should be found in such a novel. Mr. Bazell fulfills all these expectations with the exception of the surprises, after learning so much about Dr. Brown/Azimuth in Beat the Reaper, there is little to add to this already colorful, intelligent character. The shocks come in the mystery that is surrounding White Lake, the home of the monster.
The startling point(s) of this novel is the amount of political discourse set forth. There is nothing overt about the political slant, but one does not have to look too closely to see where Mr. Bazell’s heart resides. Having a “Catastrophic Paleontologist,” whose introduction will have to go down as one of the most depressing of future hopes I have ever read, as one of the main characters, having them visit a town who is dying due to the “out sourcing” of the industry that once sustained it and seeing how the locals are making a living (cooking Methamphetamine) leads the reader to intuit that the author is trying to send a message. The identity of the referee is so blatant a political statement that, were it not one of the funniest moments of the book, it could have caused the novel to be a rant. The book does not take itself seriously enough to be a rant, however.
This is NOT a book for children or those easily offended. I am not easily offended and there were points where I felt the author needed a thesaurus so he could use language that was more realistic and not filled with inane vulgarities. This is shaping up to be an on-going series, as this book ends with that possibility being more a reality. I will read the next installment if one is published, but it will need to show more of the intellect displayed in the first novel for me to read any after that one.
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