Murder Boy by Bryon Quertermous

Murder Boy by Bryon QuertermousI was staring at the bodies and feeling more confused and nauseated than heroic. — Dominick Prince

Having been stuck in the wasteland that is crime and poverty-ridden Detroit for the majority of his life, things were finally headed in the right direction for Dominick Prince; he was on the verge of getting a fresh start.

As soon as his creative writing professor, Parker Farmington, signed off on Dominick’s final thesis project, Dominick would be on his way to New York City and a waiting writing fellowship. But a funny thing happened on the way to the bright lights of the Big Apple.

Farmington refused to sign off.

At the end of his rope and desperate, Dominick comes up with a novel solution: kidnap Farmington and force him to sign. Not the way most people would go, granted, but Dominick is truly convinced he has nothing left to lose.

And so, fueled by a combination of alcohol, rage and desperation, with a chaser of self-delusion, Dominick sets his plot into motion. The results are undeniably disastrous, and marvelously madcap. As Dominick’s ill-conceived plan pinballs from pillar to post, author Bryon Quertermous introduces a colorful cast of supporting characters, each of whom adds their own special flavor to the mix.

Femme fatale Posey Wade, Farmington’s disgruntled girlfriend (“Let’s keep that buzz going while you tell me about this kidnapping plan of yours.”), and her unstable bounty hunter brother (“I find people, I chase people, and occasionally I shoot people.”) are first to the party, and if Dominick’s plan wasn’t already doomed the addition of the Wade family decidedly seals its fate. Add in an angsty serial killer trying to find his voice (“We’re two young guys trying to find our ways. Yours is writing, mine is killing.”), a University Police Sergeant with fuzzy motives and loyalties (“I know people who know people who know stuff…and shit. You know?”), the pompous professor himself (“If we’re going to work together, you’re going to have to increase your verbal skills.”), and perhaps the most unique fan club this side of Trekkers, and it all makes for a deliciously dark skewering of crime fiction, academia, ambition and envy.

Done straight-up, there’s nothing particularly original about a desperate man driven to criminal lengths to accomplish his life’s goal. With Murder Boy, however, Quertermous has made the bold decision to add a tremendous injection of gallows humor to the traditionally dead serious crime fiction arena. Don’t let the lighter tone fool you though. Woven in amidst the antics is a subtle journey of self-discovery, as well as a rather biting, and accurate, commentary about the perils of tying one’s identity to one’s ambition.

The end result of it all is a wonderfully refreshing change of pace, and an authorial voice that immediately sets itself apart from the pack.

Murder Boy is available from Polis Books (ISBN: 978-1940610276).

Bryon Quertermous was born and raised in Michigan. His short stories have appeared in Plots With Guns, Thuglit, and Crime Factory among others, and in the anthologies Hardcore Hardboiled, The Year’s Finest Crime, Mystery Stories, and Uncage Me. He currently lives outside of Detroit with his wife and three children. You can learn more about Bryon and his work by visiting his website.
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