Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: The Yard Sale by Cal Kirby

And now for something completely different--The Yard Sale (But It Ain't No Bargain). This slender novel is closer to a novella, but I don't believe author Cal Kirby cares. His command of mechanics is fine, but this 2001 first published book (now a 2011 ebook) is far from writing perfection. In fact, it's full of dropped-in factoids, blocks of character description, give-a-way chapter titles, odd asides, and violates many rules or guidelines in the search for conventional writing perfection. But, there is something endearing about this story and Chas Kirkland, a homicide detective, who tries to find a missing friend, Lisa Shoeman, before dastardly deeds can be done to her.

Gather around the kitchen table, Cal is just telling a story. And if he needs to say that Lisa didn't know what was coming her way, even though the reader does, well, that's just the way Cal tells the story. A Cheshire Cat grin stayed on my face while reading Yard Sale despite the serious nature of the story. Why? I turned page after page despite a strong desire to pull out the big red pen and mark the hundreds of ways it could have been made better through some serious editing. The simple story has some really terrible bad guys, a good cop with strong and dependable cop allies, a few twists, a couple of plucky characters, heck of a chase scene, and friends who rally when the chips are down. A good screenplay writer could do a lot with this.

Despite enjoying it for what it was, I doubt that many readers will: it's just not a quality read. Unlike some people who put out crap just to get your $0.99, I believe Cal published an honest, if flawed book. But if you can put down your big red pen, toss a buck this way, and just let your critical nature go, you just might have a nice afternoon beach read. Giving it a 2 for its flaws seems just mean for the pleasure I got out of the story, so I'll raise it up like Atlas to a "3."

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