Jenre's Reviews > The Trouble with Hairy

The Trouble with Hairy by Hal Bodner
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's review
Apr 28, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: paranormal, comedy, mystery, gay
Read from April 28 to May 08, 2012

The Trouble with Hairy is a rather madcap comedy paranormal horror with a large ensemble cast. It's not a romance, although there is an established gay couple and two other rather bittersweet romantic pairings. I have to be honest and say that because there is so much going on, it's difficult for me to be able review this book in a way which encompasses both the breadth of story and my feelings for it. The book is a sort of follow on from Bite Club by this author in that it contains some of the same characters. However, I haven't read that first book and didn't feel that I was missing anything by not having read it before this book.

The book is set in West Hollywood, and as I said there's a large cast, all of whom are given a narrative voice. There's police chief Clive who is responsible for investigating a serious of recent pet murders. This is followed by three further human murders. There's Becky the coroner whose love of fat, sugary food is reflected in her girth. There's a vampire Chris and his renfield lover Troy who are called on to assist Clive and Becky when it looks like the murderer may not be quite human. There are two werewolves, Louis and Guy. There is Pamela, the city manager who sends the fear of God into all she meets with her abrasive personality and stickler for the city's ordinances. There's Carlos, Pamela's cross dressing PA. There are then other more minor characters such as the Mayor, the murder victims, a female vamp, the alpha werewolf, a cop and possibly others who I've forgotten, who all get a turn to be the narrator. Those readers who prefer to have the story split between no more than three characters may not find this book to their taste. Personally, I rather liked the swiftly changing narrators as it allowed us a glimpse into the lives of the characters that we wouldn't otherwise get. This meant that I gained an understanding of their motivations which allowed me to see why the characters acted as they did.

The tone of the book is quite light, which you would expect given that it's a comedy. However, as the story progressed the tone darkened slightly and there were a number of bitter moments which lifted the book out of mere frivolity. It's also a horror and so the comic moments are tempered by some rather grizzly descriptions of murders. Those who don't like gore, be warned, you may have to skip over a couple of pages. I like horror and even I winced at one particularly gruesome description.

As a comedic novel it worked well. There were lots of opportunities for the author to digress for comic effect, or to bring out some funny aspect in the personality of the characters. For me the book excelled at a study of the foibles and inconsistencies of human nature and it was the times where we were focused on Becky or on Chris and Troy that I enjoyed the most - perhaps because I could sympathise with Becky's love of food. On a slight side note, I loved the gentle, almost non-judgmental way that Becky was shown as a lady of a certain size. We laughed at her attempts at dieting, but it wasn't cruel and the most poignant moments in the story were as a result of the things that happen to Becky.

There was also a firm bite of satire regarding city politics which made me smile a number of times. This did occasionally tip too far into the surreal for me - one particular scene where the Mayor and Pamela have a fight in Clive's office didn't work for me, but I can see that some readers might find it hilarious. The setting of West Hollywood was lovingly described with an eye for the ridiculous. Again the author manages to tread the right side of fine line between affectionate micky taking and outright insulting. You get a real sense that he loves this place and all the assorted oddballs who live there.

Any niggles I had were personal preferences such as my slight annoyance at the way the final set piece was organised - I didn't like the way the author set up the situation and then withheld the denouement in order to get the other players in position. It also bothered me that we were told that one of the characters was ill - using the bombshell to force a separation - but then that illness was never mentioned again.

Overall the story was a mix of focused character based plotting and large comedic set pieces involving lots of people. This worked to both further the story, provide character growth and allow us to have a few laughs. I enjoyed the book and think that it will appeal to those readers who like comedy and horror.
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Reading Progress

04/28/2012 page 51
14.0% "I like the coroner. I can totally relate to her sugar cravings :)."
05/07/2012 page 243
66.0% "Oh no! Poor Becky :(."
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Chris Any book where I need crib notes to keep the characters sorted.... ;D

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