I decided to review Mark LaFlamme’s latest book for two reasons. 1. I was very invested in this year’s presidential election (We did it!!!), so I thought reading a political thriller might keep that excitement going past November 4th. 2. It seemed like it would be an engaging but easy-going read that would give me a bit of escape here at the end of the semester.

It is both of those things – fast-paced and political. But still, I didn’t finish the book. The writing just didn’t hold the story up well enough. (I always hate posting negative reviews because, as a writer, I know they must sting – but I do it because I believe it’s important to be honest when it comes to art. Still, though, I cringe knowing how much work Mr. LaFlamme put into this book.) I simply couldn’t get past the clunky language to enjoy what might have been an engrossing plot.

The basic premise of the story is that a grieving widower, distraught, steals his wife’s body from her grave. This young man is the son of a politician making a run for the presidency, and the candidate’s staff brings in Billy Baylor to help clean up the mess. Again, the idea is interesting . . .

But in the end, I couldn’t make it through it. I simply got bogged down in the cliched images – Billy is washed up and hammered every day at the local dive bar; the candidate is picking which tie works for which speech – and the story has small inconsistencies that make it confusing. I gave the book to my friend Kathy to read, and she pointed out that in one scene Billy starts out by drinking whiskey but then – seemingly unintentionally – he’s sipping a beer a few lines later. Unfortunate slips for Mr. LaFlamme.

But please, visit his site, read the other reviews there, and make a decision for yourself. And if you’ve reviewed this book, please let me know – I”ll link to your review here.

Dirt by Mark LaFlammeDirt: An American Campaign by Mark LaFlamme