GENRES: Romantic comedy / Magical realism
AUDIENCE: Adult and Young Adult
EDITOR: Taylor Basilio
COVER DESIGN: Brian Volkhausen
"Murphy's Luck" is a modern-day fairytale. Young Murphy Drummer, also known to his classmates as "Drummer the Bummer," tows disaster in his wake. He wreaks havoc on those unlucky enough to be around him, while he coasts unscathed through the mounting catastrophes. To shield the rest of the world from his bad luck, ten-year-old Murphy becomes a recluse, getting homeschooled by his grandfather and granddad's best friend, Lucas. Taking a kindhearted teacher's advice, Murphy's curriculum focuses on mastering a multitude of hobbies.
Flash-forward twenty years and Murphy--still in his self-imposed isolation--is the popular, but anonymous, columnist known as "The Hobby Guy." With his grandfather's death, circumstances change and Murphy is forced to venture out into the world. After some inevitable and hilarious mishaps, he meets Joy Daley, an optimist with nothing but good luck. Joy is engaged to the rather unlikeable Brock Parker, a sour, cynical detective with a horse-race-loving and lonely partner, Detective Johnson.
As Murphy's luck would have it, once these characters come together, chaos ensues. The Tarot-reader Freya seems to be the only one who knows what's going on and what the outcome will be. Luck, chance, destiny, coincidence--call it what you will--the clash of good and bad luck, mixed in with the blessing of the tarot, make "Murphy's Luck" a fun, light-hearted tale with some funny twists and turns along the way.
Overall, "Murphy's Luck" is a pleasant, enjoyable read, but like a puff pastry, as delicious as it is, there's not a lot of substance. It's great while you're reading, but doesn't stick with you for long. Fairly early on, the story becomes predictable. The reader knows which way events are going to go--usually downhill--and that there'll be a happy ending for all. The details, however, are less predictable, and that's what makes it so entertaining. Ben Laskin is at his best when Murphy is at his worst--throwing twists, turns, and a lot of damage into every tumultuous scene unfolding around Murphy. The incident on the bus alone makes this worth reading. Be prepared to push suspension of disbelief to its limit, particularly in the final scene, but if you let yourself get completely caught up in the story, that won't be hard to do.
If you're looking for a whimsical, upbeat read that will make you smile, "Murphy's Luck" is a great choice. There is enough magic here to make the story fantastical but not so much that it's a fantasy, more a "fairy-tale lite" crossed with a cozy mystery. Readers wanting depth, realism, or fully-plausible outcomes might want to leave this one the shelf. Not particularly profound or suspenseful, with no sex or violence, this is a book to happily while away a lazy afternoon, and then comfortably share with your parents or children.
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Lynne Hinkey is the author of two novels. Marina Melee is a topical island misadventure where living the easy life is hard work! In Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons, a monster rampages through Puerto Rico. Is the chupacabra real or myth? Dog only knows (and no one is asking him!)