Wild Thing Review
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In author Josh Bazell’s frantic 2009 debut, Beat the Reaper, mob hit man Pietro Brnwa turned doctor Peter Brown raced to keep a mobbed-up patient (and himself) alive. Now, after getting reprocessed through the Witness Protection Program, he’s back with a new name and a completely different kind of adventure.

As Wild Thing begins, Brnwa/Brown is now known as Dr. Lionel Azimuth. After spending some time working a crappy job as a junior physician on a cruise ship, he’s eager to escape the sea, so he accepts a meeting with a reclusive billionaire who wants to offer him some kind of a mysterious job.

The job, it turns out, it even stranger than the man who’s offering it. Brnwa is asked to go on a kind of monster hunt, accompanying a beautiful paleontologist on an expedition to a tiny lake in the middle of nowhere, where they’re supposed to come face-to-face with a mythical sea monster.

Even the townspeople seem to think the whole thing’s a great, big hoax. But with drug runners and possible murderers on the loose—and his attraction to his feisty traveling companion growing—he’s got more to worry about than just a sea monster.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, Wild Thing isn’t filled with the same kind of break-neck action and thrills as Beat the Reaper. The sequel is a completely different beast—so different, in fact, that the two books barely seem connected. The main character feels completely out of place in the situation—and, since you’re reading about Dr. Lionel Azimuth instead of Dr. Peter Brown, you might often forget that they’re the same character.

The story, meanwhile, isn’t as much a gripping crime thriller as it is a bizarre, foul-mouthed, grown-up novelization of an episode of Scooby-Doo. It’s filled with legends and conspiracies and grand hoaxes, set in an intriguing backwoods location with a quirky cast of rednecks, small-time crooks, and other sinister-seeming suspects. And while the sea monster story is pretty strange, it’s nowhere near as outlandish as the real reason for the whole job, which is so far-fetched that it simply comes off as lazy storytelling.

For the most part, Wild Thing feels like little more than a random collection of quirky little pieces and parts—a mishmash of mobsters, monsters, and murder mystery (with touches of political diatribe thrown in for good measure). It’s all pretty wild and wacky (and certainly amusing) stuff—all of these fascinating little elements—but, unfortunately, none of them really fit together. The characters aren’t well developed, and their stories simply seem to pass by one another instead of connecting together. So while it’s definitely a quirky read, it isn’t necessarily a satisfying one.

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