When MsWas sent out the email offering free copies of The Sasquatch Murder, I knew I had to have one. About six months ago, a new coffee shop opened about a block from my house. It’s called Coffee for Sasquatch. I had visions of reading the book under the giant wall sculpture of Sasquatch, as if she’s reading over my shoulder. That didn’t quite happen, but I am writing this review while drinking coffee and glancing up at Big Sassy herself.
I’m not quite sure how to talk about this book. It’s not good. Style and tone are all over the place. Some passages were clearly added to pad out the word count, much like a high school book report adding a lot of completely and ridiculously and superfluously long adverbs to get to the end of that second or third page. It’s full of clichés; one of the characters is literally described as speaking in old-timey clichés, and Hee-Haw-Howdy, does he ever (see: this review’s title). The dialogue is painful and commits one of the cardinal sins of fiction: the characters narrate out loud to each other what they’re doing, while they’re doing it. It’s got some cringe-inducing, Mickey-Rooney-in-Breakfast-at-Tiffany’s-level racism in dealing with the few non-white, non-American, completely disposable characters. Much of what happens is preposterous and unbelievable and just plain wrong.
It’s the kind of book I’d like to crucify by channeling the gods and goddesses of Pajiba snark and filth, past and present. Up until about a third of my way through, that’s what I was planning, and then a few things happened. I looked up the publisher and saw that it’s mostly for self-publishing, which made sense. I read the author blurb, and he’s had about six different careers. I can 100% identify with that. I’m in my early-mid-40’s (shut up, it’s a thing) and trying to become a real writer like I always wanted but was too afraid. I get it.
And I also realized that I’d accepted the book for what it was, not what I thought it should be. It didn’t get better. Good god, no. But I started to have fun reading it. He’s terrible with people and dialogue. It’s a murder without a murder, let alone mystery, and (a love story) without romance. But it somehow turned into so-bad-it’s-funny instead of so-bad-it’s-painful. His descriptions of the Pacific Northwest landscape are good enough that if he paid as much attention to everything else through a few (dozen) rewrites, he might have a decent novel. No. I take that back. It’d still be terrible and probably not as fun.
I freely admit that the free copy may have influenced my review. If I’d bought this book, it would probably be in shreds at the bottom of my recycle bin right now. Sasquatch deserves better. I can’t exactly recommend it, but I’ve read far worse this year.