When my Aunt Monica gave Some Dead Genius by Lenny Kleinfeld as a Christmas gift, I didn't even have to read the back of the book to know I would like it. Monica has spent most of her life working in theatre, film and other artistic endeavors and, as a result, has made it her business to connect with equally creative people. Needless to say, I had a positive bias when it came to this particular novel.
What did I like about Some Dead Genius? For starters, the humor. I read a lot of “who done its,” but most of them are dead serious. Criminals, (including fictitious ones), are notoriously stupid, so I'm confused as to why many authors ignore this folly. Not so with the characters who live in the pages of Some Dead Genius.
Kleinfeld's plot involves desperate artists, loan sharks trying to make money off them, and two delightfully funny detectives trying to unravel a plot with many twists and turns. The action takes place in Chicago which was a plus for me since I've had several opportunities to visit that amazing city.
I normally don't pay much attention to chapter heads, but in the case of Some Dead Genius, it is highly advised. In order to give context to the plot, Kleinfeld goes back in time to help the reader understand why the characters find themselves in such a pickle. The chapter heads alert the reader as to the year in which a particular scene takes place.
NPR named Some Dead Genius as one of the Best Books of 2014. Others have likened his style to Elmore Lenard and Carl Hiaasen. Here's a sample of what you can find in this comical detective story:
To learn more about Kleinfeld's previous work as playwright, screenwriter and columnist for periodicals such as the Chicago Tribune and New York Times, check out his website: