Review: Misdemeanor Man by Dylan Schaffer

Posted: August 15, 2014 in Reviews
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This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

You’ll hear this refrain a lot from me: I let this book languish on my TBR mountain range for too long.

The book in question is 2004′s Misdemeanor Man, written by Dylan Schaffer. It’s the story of a public defender by day and the singer in a Barry Manilow cover (and interpretation) band by night. Everything’s on track for Barry X and the Mandys to play a show that will be attended by Mr. Manilow himself — until a case lands on Gordon’s desk. A guy’s exposed himself to an eight-year-old girl. All hell breaks loose.

All hell does break loose because this isn’t a simple case of Look What I’ve Got. There’s more going on here. A lot is at stake, and that’s putting it mildly. A city’s development. Real estate prices. And a charity that pulls people out of the gutter.

There’s a ton to like in this book. The Mandys are a colorful bunch, supporting Gordon off-stage as well as on. Gordon’s got a family unlike any other I’ve encountered in fiction, and yep, they’re equally as colorful. Of course Gordon has issues of his own, and they color everything he does. Including the Mandys.
The mystery is interesting, too. It unfolds well and makes sense. One problem, though: too many characters. It took me about a week to read this and I lost track of a few people. Who they were, what they did, what their role in things is.

One other quibble: the trial. Ugh. SO unneccessary. Oh, parts of it are totally necessary — like the video. But the rest? Skip it, folks! I understand that author Schaffer is a lawyer and there’s always this need for the play-by-play, to establish your credibility or whatnot. The story, however, is what needs to reign supreme, not the author. The micro-details of the trial bog the story down. We’re here because we, first and foremost, want to know what happens when Gordon and company play for the man himself.

This is fun stuff. We haven’t seen such deliciously quirky characters in a long time, not to mention the whole Barry Manilow angle. I lost the last bit of affection I had for the guy when I read his concert rider at The Smoking Gun.

You know what, though? I can sorta maybe see the magic of Barry, at least through Gordon’s eyes.

That makes this rockin’ book a keeper.

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