Publication Date: September 5, 2012
In Murder and Other Distractions by Michael Estrin, Ethan runs into the Girl Who Got Away with her new boyfriend at a Taco Stand. The next day the woman and her boyfriend are dead, and Ethan is the prime suspect according to raw bulldoggish, Detective Boyd. Can Ethan avoid taking the fall for a crime he didn’t commit? Or did he?
Helen Smith, an Amazon reviewer, calls Murder and Other Distractions a slacker comedy. There is no better descriptor for this novel which could have been sub-titled “What Ethan did while being investigated for murder”. In a novel rife with hipster philosophy, Ethan is the guy looking toward his next sexual encounter and hit on the joint.
I really enjoyed this novel. The writing style smacked of Tim Dorsey. Light and airy while hitting the essential high points to take a pause and say, “Hey, someone was killed, back on track”. I laughed out loud several times during this read from Ethan, who is the worst pot buyer in the world visiting the worst pot dealer in the world to the sarcastically cynical observations of life in Los Angeles. Murder and Other Distractions was a truly entertaining read.
Boyd was a little much. He was loud, crass, and heavily confrontational. When we meet Ethan’s lawyer, he was much the same, and then it occurred to me that Ethan is telling us this story. It’s like that friend who is telling you a story and relays being pulled over by a super confrontational cop. That’s not how it really happened, but that’s how they see it. Ethan is a writer, so he is more sophisticated in style than the friend. I will admit, I could be over-thinking this book.
The ending makes sense but doesn’t really matter. Just ask Ethan who debates meaning vs. matter throughout the storyline.
Ethan refers to Seinfeld more than once in the narrative and this is a novel of all Costanzas and no Jerrys. A lack of Jerry is okay for me because I never liked him. The plot flow is a passage of time rather than event-to-event. There are reviews that say that Ethan is an accurate representation of 20-somethings today. I would hope not. That Ethan’s are the wave of the future scares me, but he does come out of the other side changed. Changed for good or bad, I’ll let you decide.
Murder and Other Distractions is a fun read. If you like dark humor and aren’t put off by a little funny filth, pick this one up. Quick, fun and loaded with laughs.