When I was approached about reading and reviewing A Hole in the Ground Owned by a Liar by Daniel Pyne, it sounded like the kind of dark comedy I like. I knew about Daniel Pyne’s work on The Manchurian Candidate, Any Given Sunday, Miami Vice, and Alcatraz, but didn’t realize he was the author of the noir novel, Twentynine Palms. If you like dark, twisty comedies filled with quirky characters then read on.
Lee Garrison teaches high school in Colorado. To say life hasn’t been going very well for him lately would be a gross understatement. His wife left him for a local real estate broker, Stan; his brother, Grant, is in prison; teaching feels like a bottomless pit of repetition; and well, you get the picture. Lee feels like something is definitely missing in his life. Can you say “mid-life crisis”?
Then one day Lee’s browsing around on eBay when he spots exactly what he’s been looking for, a gold mine. Yep, Lee’s mid-life crisis isn’t going to be cured by an exotic new car or an exotic trip. What he needs is a genuine Colorado gold mine close to home so he can be a weekend adventurer any time he wants. That settled, he takes every cent he has left and buys the mine sight unseen.
“COLORADO GOLD MINE
Buy it now!
…I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING: You’re thinking the same thing any sane, sensible person would: If the Blue Lark Mine’s loaded with gold, then why are you looking to sell it, ya doddy old coot?…”
Now you may be saying to yourself, what kind of idiot buys a gold mine on eBay? Exactly my thought, but here’s the thing; Lee is in bad need of adventure. Amazingly enough, he doesn’t really care if the mine actually contains any gold or not. He’s desperate for something to take him out of the ever deepening funk that he’s fallen into, and a gold mine sounds like just the thing to do it.
As he treks the mountainside and searches records, locating his mine’s exact coordinates, he begins to attract a motley crew of helpers attracted to this grand adventure of his. Soon they’re all pitching in to uncover what lies within the hillside. As soon as Grant is released from prison, he also pitches in to help, adding his own weird charm and larcenous nature into the mix. It’s like watching The Keystone Cops become prospectors.
“’No! No!’ Doug shrieked like a petulant third grader. ‘There’s gold in there, Lee! We go in! We go in! We bring it out! Happily ever after!’
‘Nobody goes into my mine ‘til it’s safe,’ Lee said.
Doug just shook his head. ‘Don’t be a dick.’
‘You’re not going in my mine until it’s safe, Doug.’
‘Look. A) It’s not just your mine, Partner. And B) try to stop me.’
Doug rose to his feet and hopped down into the trench…Lee briefly considered the moral and legal complications that would arise if he just left Doug glued down there, and how long it would take a man of Doug’s considerable size to suffer from lack of food and water, though it was more likely he would die of exposure, but at least Lee wouldn’t have to listen to any more stories.”
Looming in the background are a pair of Pakistani twins, Paul and Saul Slocumb from Wyoming, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the mine for their gold mining operation. The prior owner died under highly suspicious circumstances. They begin closing in on Lee, pressuring him to sell them the mine. No one can believe he won’t sell. He can’t believe he’s in any danger from the twins.
“Kansas City Star…
Yesterday morning Patrolmen Bob Flynn and Stuart Nelson forced entry and found an elderly man hanging from a clothesline noose in the basement of a rust-brick house in the 2200 block of Logan Street…
‘He just recently sold a darn mine on eBay, if you can believe it,’ Mikey Lovell said. ‘Over thirty thousand bucks, I saw the darn check. Either that, or he was really good at lying.’”
Can Lee save his mining adventure and himself from the mad Pakistani twins and his well-meaning helpers? Does the mine contain gold? Will Lee even care if it does? Can Lee resolve his mid-life crisis and get his life back together in time to literally survive?
I have to be honest, at first I thought Lee was a total loser but he quickly grew on me and I found myself really liking this guy! His motley crew were hysterical, each more bumbling and well-meaning than the next. Although I didn’t get into who they are in the review, they include Barbara, the cantankerous town mayor; Doug, a rotund court records clerk: and Rayna, a lovely general store clerk. Think Mayberry quirky characters meet gold mining. Grant is like a laid-back California surfing charmer gone bad. He and Lee have typical sibling rivalry over everything, including their love interests. The Pakistani twins are oddballs too, even if they are ruthless ones. Altogether, this band of misfits makes for a read that’s laugh-out-loud funny at times.
A Hole in the Ground Owned by a Liar is a very unusual novel. It will definitely cure you of any ideas you might have about gold prospecting. Since it’s a dark comedy, it’s not for everyone. That said, I predict that readers who like noir adventure comedies will get a kick out of it. And one lucky reader will win a finished copy!
Can’t wait to read it?
A Hole in the Ground Owned by a Liar was published on January 17, 2012, so it should be available at your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
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One lucky reader will win a finished trade paperback copy of A Hole in the Ground Owned by a Liar by Daniel Pyne!
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