Review: Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward

April 6, 2011 Humor, Mystery/Suspense, Putnam, Review 11

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult (April 5, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0399157409
  • Source: Publisher

    Twenty-something siblings Lacy & Paul live together in a small rural town in Northern California.  They get by on a pretty substantial crop of marijuana growing in their basement.  When a headless body is discovered on their property, for obvious reasons they can’t report it to the police.  Instead, they move the body & wait for the police to discover it on their own.  A few days later the body reappears and Lacy & Paul are forced to become amateur sleuths & attempt to identify the still headless, more decomposed body, and the killer.

    Heads You Lose isn’t your typical murder mystery.  The authors, Lisa Lutz (of the Spellman series fame) and David Hayward (poet) are not only collaborators on this book, they are former romantic partners. The book is written in alternating chapters written by each of the authors. Lutz wrote the first chapter & all odd-numbered chapters; Hayward wrote the even ones. Neither author was allowed to undo something written by the other; they wrote the book blind, not collaborating or discussing what the other was working on.  Footnotes & brief messages within and between the chapters are the authors commentary to one another.    This unique aspect of the creation of this book really added to the overall reading experience.

    One of my favorite chapters was one in which Hayward wrote in “Dick and Jane” format (completely with simple words and large font) after Lisa complained about the “fancy words” he used in his chapters.  Here is a brief segment of this chapter:

    Irving the cat was on the porch.  He was eating a dead bat.  Chomp, chomp, chomp, went Irving.

    Paul petted Irving.  ‘Hello, Irving,” said Paul.

    ‘Meow,’ said Irving.

    So, not only is Heads You Lose a pretty intriguing mystery, it’s also a battle between these former lovers.  Issues from their relationship pop up in the commentary to one another; issues never resolved yet also not forgotten. It is all done in a light, humorous manner, however.  I quite literally was preventing from reading this book in public due to the outbursts of laughter generated by each chapter.

    I’ll admit it: when I heard about the premise & creation of this novel, I was skeptical.  How is it possible collaborate on a novel without talking to one another.  However, I trust the opinion of the publicist who pitched this book to me and decided to take the plunge. Lutz & Hayward were able to pull it off, to my amazement! Ultimately, I think it was best that they work on this novel in two separate locations; had they been in the same room I think there might have been a real murder to solve!

    I highly recommend this to all fans of suspense & thriller fiction. It wouldn’t hurt to have a dark, sick sense of humor as well! Have a box of tissues handy, not because the book is sad but due to the tears of laughter that rush down your face as you read this hilarious piece of fiction!

    Following are two videos I couldn’t resist sharing.  They allow you to see the authors as they really are, their interactions between one another.  Also, be sure to check out the authors’ blog for a bit of comic relief as well!

    11 Responses to “Review: Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward”

    1. Beth F
      Twitter: BethFishReads

      So glad the premise worked because I just loved the videos and I admit to being intrigued from the moment I first heard about the book. Now I really need to pick it up!

    2. S. Krishna
      Twitter: skrishna

      I have had this one for a long time and been wanting to get to it, but for some reason I always pick up something else! I need to rectify that!

    3. Dee DeTarsio

      I just started Heads You Lose yesterday–and I’m loving it! It has all the fun of The Spellman’s and the concept of these two rotating authors really works–genius! (I have it on my kindle, though, and the footnotes aren’t as much fun:(

    4. Jaime
      Twitter: ibeforem

      I finished this a couple of days ago, and really liked it. I adore Lutz’s humor.

    5. Kay

      I have got to read this book. Just watching the video and hearing about it has made me chuckle. My mystery group read THE SPELLMAN FILES a while back and it was a big hit.

    6. Pam (@iwriteinbooks)

      Oh, man, this looks so good! I can’t watch the videos, right now because my three year old is asleep on the couch and I’m not going to test that! I’ll check it out in a little bit though…or find some headphones.