Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words
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For 13 years Will Viharo presented and produced the live cult movie cabaret Thrillville. An author of multiple novels Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me is the first starring PI Vic Valentine, originally published in 1995 until it went out of print and was recently reissued. Will currently lives in San Francisco with his wife and cats.
You can learn more about the author at his website.
Pro-baseball player Tommy Dodge has a problem, his wife, Rose, has disappeared. He hires PI Vic Valentine to find her. And that’s when the trouble starts, because Vic thinks he knows her.
Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me is a breezy, fun read. It is narrated in the first person by the protagonist, PI Vic Valentine – Vic being sometimes short for Victor, sometimes Victim, as he says. At the outset Vic spends most of his time in a bar watching old movies and talking to the landlord, Doc. Vic’s life is uncomplicated until in walks washed up pro-baseball player Tommy Dodge. The case seems straightforward at first, find Dodge’s missing wife, Rose, but literally nothing is as it seems. Vic gets himself deeper and deeper in trouble as he tries to find out the truth about Rose.
I’d like to say more about the story here but I’m unwilling to drop out any spoilers. Most of the joy of this book is the regular curves the author throws at the reader. Just when you think you’ve learnt everything about ‘Rose’, Viharo tosses in another banana, another problem for Vic to overcome.
The characterisation is perhaps the strongest element, Vic himself is excellent and a unique voice. He’s a complex guy and has a tendency to obsess over women, it seems to be a weakness (if that’s the right word) of his. In fact this behaviour underlines almost all of Vic’s actions. He knows damn well what he’s about to do will lead to trouble, but he goes ahead anyway. Vic simply can’t help himself, it’s like watching a slow motion car crash – inevitable, but no less painful for it.
The support characters are also very good too, easy to relate to and understand. The dialogue is sharp and witty, in fact these two words summarise the prose. To say this is a light book underestimates it, but it does clip along and is fun to read.
I thoroughly enjoyed Love Stories... and I’d certainly look out for the sequels. Vic is a fun guy to be with.
Nothing of note.
Rating: **** Four Stars