This recommendation is for my writer friends, particularly anyone considering collaborating on a novel.
“Heads You Lose” by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward is one of those ‘experiment’ books that are increasingly common in the mystery genre. Each author alternates chapters so you get both male & female writing styles. For this book, they opted not to discuss anything in advance – plot, characters, storylines, etc. – but instead each is writing blind and trying to create a coherent mystery.
Does it work?
Nah, not really. There are some great characters here, and a few memorable scenes, but overall it’s a disjointed mismash.
What makes it a great read, though, is the publisher’s decision to include the authors’ letters to each other between the chapters of their novel. Here they include their thoughts about where the story should go, as well as inevitable criticism of each other’s contributions.
This is a good spot to mention that these co-authors are also ex-boyfriend/girlfriend with a slew of unresolved personal issues.
The real reason to read this is to watch it unravel, one dig at a time. Soon they are killing off each other’s favorite characters out of spite, throwing in major plot twists just to irritate each other, and having the characters argue with each other in all the things they really want to say to the other author.
It’s a madhouse.
The book they intended to write would have been just OK. This book, as published, made me laugh out loud several times per chapter.
Best line (unintentional): “Communication was never our strong suit. For example, the news that you considered [our book] a ‘broadly comic, mainstream undertaking’ would have been useful.”
For more book recommendations, see my “Books I Can’t Stop Talking About” series