Vinnie’s Head (review)

Vinnie’s Head, a novel by Marc Lecard, gets its title from the fact that the severed head of Vincent McCloskey-Schmidt features prominently throughout — usually, but not always, in a trash bag or a picnic cooler.

If you think that suggests this book is rather on the twisted side, you’re right.

I’ve never read much crime fiction, but I gave this one a try on the recommendation of my friend Fred, who happens to know the author. Fred had earlier gotten me and Heather hooked on the novels of Christopher Moore, and he told me he thought Lecard’s style of writing, though in a different genre, would appeal to someone who likes Moore.

Vinnie’s Head falls into the bumbling criminal sub-genre. The main (non-decapitated) character is Johnnie LoDuco, known to some people as Kenny Moleri and to others, as it turns out, as Vinnie McCloskey-Schmidt. Johnnie, ex-con, bond-jumper, and general wrong-place-at-wrong-time person, goes fishing one day and reels in, to his dismay, his friend Vinnie’s head. Now, anyone else might have thrown it back, or taken it to the police, or left it under a bush for someone else to discover, but not Johnnie. Vinnie was his friend, and Johnnie feels responsible for him, or at least for his head. And as for the police, no, he doesn’t want to talk to them.

So the head comes home with Johnnie, and next thing you know, everyone — Vinnie’s girlfriend, organized crime, a bounty hunter, a video store clerk, and a serial killer with his own head collection — has taken an interest in Johnnie and his prize catch. So what are they all after? Generally not what they say they are, of course.

Fred was right: the dark humor here reminded me a lot of Moore, and so did the motley characters and screwball plot. I liked this book a lot. This was Lecard’s first novel and it was an impressive debut. Now I’m reading his second. It should be fun following his future career.

 

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