Reviewed by Jim Napier
In Rob Brunet's debut novel we are treated to a madcap action comedy about Danny Grant, a hapless pot grower in the Kawarthas who runs afoul of a biker gang and makes off with their cash. Not the thing to do, of course, as such people tend to have short fuses and long memories. In the ensuing mayhem Danny finds himself serving three years for manslaughter with a cell buddy he would willingly trade for the wrong end of a chain saw. Small wonder, then, that he takes a walk on his day pass to retrieve “his” stash. But before his saga has ended Danny will be make some life-altering discoveries and achieve some small measure of redemption.
The story opens with Grant (our Hapless Protagonist), his mother, who waitresses at a local restaurant and wateringhole, and Lester Freeden, a free-loading pal, and Lester’s maniacal guard dog Shooter. Interesting, but not compelling. Before long, however, we are introduced to a bizarre cast of misfits, oddballs and ne’erdowells, and they make the tale come alive. At the centre of the approaching storm are Perko Ratwick, a biker with a penchant for leather chaps with fringes, and Marty “Mongoose” Muldoon, a fellow biker with the unfortunately-named Libidos, together with a nearlyblind recluse in a cabin in the deep woods, Ernie McCann, who harbours two secrets, one of which could just get him killed.
Each of these colourful characters has a role to play in Brunet’s delightfully improbable tale. Perko Ratwick has built a stateof-theart grow-op on an abandoned farm, and put Danny in charge of looking after it. But after stealing a car and running out of gas, Danny’s friend Terry Miner gets picked up by a local cop, who discovers a bag of pot in the car and wants to arrest Terry for it. In an effort to cut a deal, Terry offers to lead him to the grow-op; as luck would have it they arrive just as Perko and his gang show up to exchange cash for the crop with some outoftown buyers, setting the stage for the mayhem that follows.
Stinking Rich is a fastpaced narrative that combines psychotic violence with manic humour with genre-bending fantasy. Think Quentin Tarantino meets Bill Murray meets Dr. Who. It would be a cautionary tale if anyone were likely to find himself in such circumstances; but then, if they were, they’d likely throw caution to the winds. We've read it before, of course, but Brunet handles it with outrageously black humour. Published by Down and Out Books, Stinking Rich is an entertaining take on how life has a tendency to deal from the bottom of the deck, and some people just can’t walk away from the game.
Jim Napier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org