Title: Joe’s Odyssey
Author: Nick LaTorre
Genre: Action Adventure / Comedy Fiction
Imagine sitting at your desk at work; hating your job, bored with your marriage, annoyed by your teenaged children, and financially strapped, when a bizarre opportunity arises for you to run away with a boatload of cash. Would you go?
This is the premise of Nick LaTorre’s action adventure novel Joe’s Odyssey. The main character, Joe Kerson, is the pencil-pusher described above, doing his best to make it through the workday. When his boss asks him to go out to a marina to meet a new client on his boat, Joe is mightily annoyed, as that will take some effort. But in lieu of getting fired, he goes. This set-up of LaTorre’s for the rest of the story is spot on, and the wild ride he takes us on from that point is every bored worker’s dream.
LaTorre takes the reader on a new leg of Joe’s adventure after every turn of a few pages. The book is relatively short; 60,000 words; which makes it an easy read. The author accomplishes his goal of bringing us a fast-paced, jolly tale that sparks the imagination.
The characters in the book are quirky and fun. After absconding the yacht of the new client, who turned out to be a mobster, and the suitcases full of cash that went with it, Joe chooses a group of college party boys to go on his grand adventure with him. The author describes this as “the greatest midlife crisis ever.” The problem is, mobsters are on their tail, so partying is intermingled with frantic attempts at escape as they sail around the world.
In this the author’s plot is whimsical, which is appropriate for the type of escapism offered in this story. One hitch would be the author’s description of the book as comedy. It is more wistful and cleverly imaginative than out-and-out humorous. But if a reader wants enjoyable escapism, this is it.
The tension in the story is provided by the mobsters chasing them, who are also interesting characters. A twist toward the end, which brings Joe into cahoots with an unexpected character in a plot against a former colleague, is a clever surprise. LaTorre did an admirable job of mapping out a plan for revenge.
Because the story is so fast-paced, backstory and plot details are at a minimum. This might not be the preferred type of storytelling for readers who like deep plot lines. Be prepared to be entertained rather than asked to think deeply. The motivations of the characters are shallow, on the surface, just as the boat speeds across the surface of the sea. Again, however, this fits for this type of story.
Anyone who has ever fantasized about running away from their life will enjoy this adventure. Nick LaTorre’s Joe’s Odyssey is recommended reading at your desk when the boss isn’t looking and just might be required surreptitious reading during staff meetings. You probably won’t run into a boatload of cash like Joe did, but you will be highly entertained as you imagine yourself in Joe’s place, reveling in the feel of the wind in your face as you flee from reality.
Enjoy the ride.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars