Ringer Review
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If you’re an avid bookworm, you most likely have at least a couple of authors on your radar—those authors whose new releases automatically end up on your Amazon wish list. For me, Brian Wiprud is one of those authors. He’s been on my list ever since I read 2009’s quirky caper, Feelers. Now, Wiprud continues the story of modern-day conquistador Morty Martinez in Ringer.

Not long ago, Morty was a house cleaner in Brooklyn, dreaming of his glorious destiny in La Paz, Mexico. Now, he’s Mexican gentry—a wealthy playboy who’s enjoying the good life in his seaside villa.

When he’s summoned by Father Gomez Entropica, Morty expects a long-overdue thank-you for the generous donation he made to the local orphanage. Instead, he’s sent on a mission. Decades ago, a holy relic was stolen from the church: the gold ring that was once kept on the mummified finger of the conquistador Hernando Martinez de Salvaterra. Now, the ring has been found—on the finger of New York billionaire Robert Tyson Grant.

  
 
Dressed in his best white suit, Morty travels to New York to do God’s work and bring back the ring. But when he confronts Grant, he’s confused for the Mexican hit man who’s been hired to do away with Grant’s spoiled stepdaughter—and he soon becomes tangled in a mess of fame, fortune, and greed.

Written in the same comically antiquated voice that made readers fall in love with Morty in Feelers, Ringer takes the quirky hero on a very different adventure. Instead of thugs, goons, and nosy landlords, Morty’s dealing with the rich and fabulous: billionaires, spoiled heiresses, and implant-sporting gold diggers (along with some greedy psychics, a slick journalist, and a bumbling killer). And, instead of telling the story while lounging in his villa, he’s writing the whole story from prison (as a film treatment, no less), while he awaits his execution for an unknown crime, which is slowly revealed as the story unfolds.

The result is an intriguing and entertaining caper that will keep readers laughing as it keeps them guessing. The action is fast-paced and kooky, and though the characters are more clichéd than those in some of Wiprud’s other novels, they still have a few surprises up their sleeves—especially Paco, the blundering but unwavering assassin, who will do anything to be taken seriously by his murderous colleagues.

Morty, meanwhile, remains naively and blissfully unaware of the treachery that’s slowly building all around him. He’s just happy to have been chosen for this important mission—and, if he gets to sleep with a beautiful woman or two in the process, even better. His oddly candid storytelling (which is loaded with random asides and filmmaking suggestions) gives the book its unique personality—though, eventually, his massive ego and constant womanizing will most likely get on your nerves.

Ringer may not be as exceptionally wacky as Feelers, but if you’re looking for a comical crime novel to read poolside, it’s a pretty good choice. And even though it isn’t Wiprud’s quirkiest caper, you might still find yourself adding this inventive author to your reading radar.

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