JIM WEIKART – Harry’s Last Tax Cut. Jay Jasen #2. Walker, hardcover, June 1992.

       WARNING: Killer Review – Temper Tantrum – Plot Elements Revealed.

   This unkindest cut of all triggered an explosion that has been building in me for some time. Be aware of that, and that I did not finish the book, and that I’m not going to be kind at all.

   This book is representative of a type that I have been encountering with infuriating frequency of late, to wit: a plot based on people acting in ways that are irrational, foolish, or completely unjustified according to circumstance and characterization (assuming that characterization goes beyond the cardboard two idiosyncrasies and a shtick, which is rare), and prose ranging anywhere from marginally competent to good.

   There is evidently a good market for such, because I see them more and more, and I’m sick to death of them. Plotting? Not necessary. Believably motivated actions by the characters? Not necessary. Suspension of disbelief required? Infinite, simply infinite.

   The lead character is Jay Jasen, an Enrolled Agent; I don’t know precisely what this is, but it’s some kind of tax expert certified by the IRS. You are in rapid succession asked to believe: ol’ Jay would agree to a partnership deal verbally in a bar conversation with Harry,whom he doesn’t like, just to keep from having to talk to him; that he’d forget all about it until the agreement arrives in his office for signature a few days later, which completely pisses off the partner he already has (the only believable thing so far); that during a phone call at 1:30 in the morning he’d agree to meet a panic-stricken Harry at his office immediately because Harry says there’s 30 grand in it for him; he’d get himself involved in Harry’s murder through a series of panicky actions that are insane,stupid, and unbelievable; that having miraculously escaped discovery for no rational reason decide to investigate the murder rather than tell his policeman friend (oh yes, there’s one of those; doesn’t everybody have at least one?)what he knows; that his partner (either fanatic feminist, or lesbian, or both; we’re nothing if not relevant) who has even less reason will jump right in and help him; that they will illegally sign and backdate the partnership with Harry to aid in this foolishness; and a few other things before I finally quit in complete and profound disgust Bah. Just bah.

   I know it’s easier to write than to plot, but this wouldn’t even make a good farce. Which isn’t to say it’s not farcical, mind you, just inadvertently so. The prose is competent tho unexceptional, but the opening plot hooks are absolutely asinine, and I simply can’t believe that anyone could find anything in Jay Jasen to admire, sympathize with, or be interested in.

   The above was done for another zine, but they indicated that they wasn’t going to use it, and I can understand why. I hate to trash a book like this, but it fair got my dander up, this turkey did. I don’t know the author, but I’m reasonably sure that he didn’t set out to write a book that would provoke this kind of response, and I imagine that he’d be truly wounded by it. Why did I do it, then? Well, somebody’s got to.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #1, May 1992.

Bibliographic Note:   The first recorded adventure of Jay Jasen was Casualty Loss (Walker, 1991). This was the second. There was no third.