‘A wife’s only practice for the next mistress’

Review by Grady Harp

Virginia born author Ted Korsmo has lived in a number of fascinating locations that have fed his powers as an observer of mankind – Fargo, North Dakota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, New York City where he studied film at NYU and finally Los Angeles where he worked as a film and television editor and where he writes and records music under the apt moniker “The Ted Korsmo Experiment” and is currently working on his fifth album and a collection of short stories and a novella.

That a novel of this caliber is a debut offering is astonishing. Rarely has this reviewer found a new work so imaginatively written, so smart, so intelligent, so rich in sarcasm and insight into the derring-do of the rich and the low life all set in a small town in Minneapolis. Though the story is very well paced and the introduction of character so timely that their eventual interrelationship becomes not only credible but expected, it would be possible to tear out single pages of this novel, place them around in a library or on plane or train or schoolyard and everyone who might read a sample page would be startled with the magical use of the English language.

Example: ‘The photo had Sam [Samantha Fortescue] docked on the knee of a guy who didn’t look happy to be in the same picture with her. He was himself seated upon a stone bench covered with Mayan glyphs. A tree in the background and a view of the sky indicated the snap had been taken out of doors. The man was in his late fifties, with a knobby, bunched look, as though his body was composed f spheres crowded against each other, like a rough sketch of a Disney cartoon character. Balding, lantern-jawed, tough-looking, and dressed like a banker, I knew this had to be Mr. Leslie Fortescue. He had been cut from the same rough cloth as the men in the oils on the staircase wall.’

The story itself is a well plotted murder investigation led by one excessive drinker/caustic/hypercritical/smart mouthed detective Carroll La Rue, a Los Angeles transplant (with a dubious past with the LAPD) to Wayzata, Minnesota who is inculcated into a wealthy family’s history of a lothario husband Leslie Fortesque, his dead wife Camryn (who had been attended by a caregiver Samantha who becomes the next Mrs. Fortesque despite the eligibility of Fortesque’s mistress du jour Mavis Madder….) and is questionably assisted by fellow Wayzata detective Marion Hules. And if that isn’t enough oddball characters to play out a murder investigation just read on a few pages and the cast becomes further cluttered.

But more than the hilariously crafted tense mystery is Ted Korsmo’s incomparably excellent with word play. This is one very smart writer who if he has more stories of this caliber brewing in his mind is likely to become one of today best detective thriller writers. Watch him grow!

ISBN: 9781500769024

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