Book review | A Man Named Doll by Jonathan Ames

Author: Jonathan Ames

Genre: Crime thriller

No. of pages: 224

Published by: Pushkin Press

Published on: 29th April 2021

Format: Paperback

My rating: ★★★★☆

Meet Happy Doll Hank to his friends. He's a LA private detective living a quiet life along with his beloved half-Chihuahua half-Terrier, George. He's getting by just fine When he's not walking George or sipping tequila, Hap works nights at the Thai Miracle Spa, protecting the women who work there from clients who won't take "no" for an answer. Until he kills a man. Usually Doll avoids trouble by following his two basic rules: bark loudly and act first. But after a deadly fight with a customer, even he finds himself wildly out of his depth... A Man Named Doll is both a hilarious introduction to an unforgettable character, and a high-speed joyride through the sensuous and violent streets of LA.

Happy Doll, an LAPD ex-cop lives a quaint yet dynamic life. By day he is a private investigator and by night he's a Thai spa security guy. His life is pretty uneventful until one day his best friend asks him for a kidney transplant and a few hours later he accidentally kills a man. Things escalate quickly and Happy is on a wild goose chase, where he is doing all the chasing to uncover the mystery behind a kidney transplant gone haywire in Los Angeles.

I honestly didn't expect to end up liking this book. The beginning of the book felt so dry and very basic like usual detective/crime thrillers, but a few chapters later, I was surprised to see the plot take an unusual turn. At first it looks like the story involves around Happy killing a certain someone, but it soon turns into something more dark and dangerous. The pace of the book was perfect. In fact, I read the book in just a few hours.

Jonathan Ames draws a very luscious picture of Los Angeles. As our protagonist goes back and forth around different places in and around LA, it gave me enough context to picturize the protagonist in the whole setting. It almost felt like watching a heart-racing movie. Packed with action, and laced with dark humour, A Man Named Doll is the perfect weekend-read.

Kudos to the author for creating such a likable character. Happy does have a sad past, but his coping mechanism is sarcasm. There are moments in the book where he is jammed with sedatives in his system and that's when he spits such deadpan dialogues that I legit guffawed. You'll find yourself rooting and cheering for Happy Doll as he fights criminals with his equally lovable dog.

The book has maintained a moderate descriptive style throughout, which made the reading experience very smooth. The chapters are relatively average in length as well. What takes the crown for this book are the dialogues. Through this book, author Jonathan Ames shows his calibre at making a chilling crime thriller posit as a pleasant read as well. 

Novelist, essayist, creator of the beloved TV series Bored to Death and Blunt Talk, Jonathan Ames is celebrated not only for his comic sensibilities and devotion to the absurd but for his lurid attraction to inner demons. He is the author of nine books including Wake Up, Sir!, The Extra Man and You Were Never Really Here, all published by Pushkin Press. You Were Never Really Here was adapted for an award-winning film, starring Joaquin Phoenix, by Lynne Ramsay.

I received a copy of the book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review. 



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