Publication Date: January 1, 2016
Freddie Winters is a mystery writer who spends his days trying to sell his novels while dodging his landlord. When his more successful college roommate, Dylan St. James, says that someone is trying to kill him and that he needs help, Freddie sees a chance to get away from his apartment and make an extra buck. As Freddie starts investigating in an effort to help his friend, he finds a cast of dangerous characters any one of whom could be out to get Dylan. Is this real-life case more than Freddie can handle?
The author, Alastair Puddick, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
Freddie Winters and I have something in common. We both hate the writing of James Patterson. Freddie hates it because it’s so successful and crap (Dad forgive me because I know you love him); I think he’s just crap. We also both think that Freddie Winters is probably a better writer. Alastair Puddick is certainly a better writer, in my opinion, anyway. I’m sure people will disagree but keep your emails and read Killing Dylan and then let me know where you stand.
The James Patterson-esque Freddie has found himself alienated by choice from his college friend who is rather Nicholas Sparks-like in style and popularity. That Dylan thinks Freddie can solve a mystery because he writes mysteries is a bit nuts but to Puddick’s credit, he doesn’t pretend it‘s not. Freddie sees it as good excuse as any to reconnect with someone with whom he should have never lost touch. Freddie is wily, jaded, sarcastic and somewhere deep down, cares about Dylan. They share a connection to their common college friend, Dylan’s dead first wife. Freddie was a wonderful character to read. Freddie is heartfelt in a way that is never sappy even when readers might think Puddick would take the story to that flute-music place.
My Dad read this book subsequent to my reading and likened Freddie to Gregory McDonald’s feature character. While I’ve also read the Fletch novels and have seen the movie starring Chevy Chase in the title role, Freddie is not quite so slapstick. He is funny without playing the comedic role. There are portions of the novel that are deliciously ridiculous and feature the dark humor that I so love from U.K. fiction but the characters are tongue-in cheek-realness and somewhat meta in their professions. Puddick, to my ear, makes some very clever statements and observations about the writing industry through his successful and not so successful characters.
While very different from Puddick’s first novel The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring (also reviewed on this site), it is equally expertly crafted. There are a few errors but nothing that ruins the flow of the story for the reader—my Dad didn’t notice them at all. There is something offbeat about Puddick’s characters and writing style that I absolutely adore. I likened his writing to P.G. Wodehouse in my last review but Killing Dylan is a different genre and a whole new outing for this very talented author. The novels do share an over-the-top sense of humor that is simply wonderful. One of my favorite moments early on is when Freddie dresses up a potted plant in his clothes and arms it with a knife setting it outside of Dylan’s door to scare him.
So, does Freddie find out who is trying to kill Dylan? You’ll just have to pick “Killing Dylan” up to find out. The novel is fun and fast and a great Friday night read with a glass of wine or cup of tea.
Read an excerpt and pick up Killing Dylan by Alastair Puddick today on: