Published by Doubleday on July 31, 2018
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Crime & Mystery, Dark Comedy, Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Private Investigators
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From the New York Times bestselling author of Meddling Kids comes a brilliantly subversive and comic thriller celebrating noir detectives, Die Hard, Fast & Furious, and the worst case of sibling rivalry.
In a dingy office in Fisherman's Wharf, the glass panel in the door bears the names of A. Kimrean and Z. Kimrean. Private Eyes. Behind the door there is only one desk, one chair, one scrawny androgynous P.I. in a tank top and skimpy waistcoat. A.Z., as they are collectively known, are twin brother and sister. He's pure misanthropic logic, she's wild hedonistic creativity. The Kimreans have been locked in mortal battle since they were in utero...which is tricky because they, very literally, share one single body. That's right. One body, two pilots. The mystery and absurdity of how Kimrean functions, and how they subvert every plotline, twist, explosion, and gunshot--and confuse every cop, neckless thug, cartel boss, ninja, and femme fatale--in the book is pure Cantero magic.
Someone is murdering the sons of the ruthless drug cartel boss known as the Lyon in the biggest baddest town in California--San Carnal. The notorious A.Z. Kimrean must go to the sin-soaked, palm-tree-lined streets of San Carnal, infiltrate the Lyon's inner circle, and find out who is targeting his heirs, and while they are at it, rescue an undercover cop in too deep, deal with a plucky young stowaway, and stop a major gang war from engulfing California. They'll face every plot device and break every rule Elmore Leonard wrote before they can crack the case, if they don't kill each other (themselves) first.
This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us is a mind-blowing, gender-bending, genre-smashing romp through the entire pantheon of action and noir. It is also a bold, tautly crafted novel about family, being weird, and claiming your place in your own crazy story, that can only come from the mind of Edgar Cantero.
I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Suffering from the dreaded reading slump, and not really having the motivation to do much of anything (thanks reality…you suck) let alone review, I was thinking I’d never get back to that time where I devoured books in days rather than months. Trust Edgar Cantero (The Supernatural Enhancements, Those Meddling Kids) to lift me out of that canyon with his latest novel This Body’s Not Big Enough for Both of Us, a Private Investigator tale with less of a twist – more a tornado.
Adrian and Zooey are typical siblings: they squabble, set each other up, and put the other through the most extreme pain and agony they can. But despite all that, they still spend 24/7 in the other’s company. Because they have to. Classified as ‘Genetic Chimeras’, the only ones of their kind, AZ Kimrean (as they are collectively known to the outside world) share not only a body, but their mind. Often mis-labelled as schizophrenic or bi-polar, Kimrean actually has the genetic make-up and DNA of two separate people:
“As far as we know, Adrian holds the left hemisphere, the analytic brain. He has an IQ over one eighty, photographic memory, encyclopedic culture . . . He’s the internet with Asperger’s syndrome.” “Zooey is the right hemisphere, the creative brain. She paints, writes, composes, plays several instruments . . . She’s also hyperactive, a nymphomaniac, and an addict to every substance she’s tried once.”
After an explosive introduction which sets the tone for the novel wonderfully, Kimrean are called in by San Francisco PD to assist one of their undercover agents investigate the goings-on of the local crime syndicate. Things are getting heavy for the SFPD agent, the wonderfully written Danny Mojave, as someone has murdered the crime lord’s son on his watch. Could Danny’s plan of utilising Adrian’s analytical genius get him out of trouble? Possibly, but only if they can keep Zooey quiet. Ursula, the youngest member of the Lyon family, unwittingly gets carried along for the ride, creating a crazy group dynamic throughout the whole narrative.
Cantero’s talent really comes to the fore here, as the narrative never feels busy or over-crowded. Keeping it in third person means the action is clearly defined and there’s never any confusion over who’s talking – even when AZ are in the throws of a viciously violent argument! Cantero utilises AZ’s different eye colours to really emphasise who’s in control and it’s a marvellous narrative tool. The supporting characters are equally well written, with Danny’s disbelief at AZ’s antics providing a lot of the comedy in This Body’s Not Big Enough for Both of Us, but it’s Ursula who has the best stand-out moments outside of our main pro/antagonists.
Frustrated with her home life (she’s well aware her father is a crime lord) she attaches herself to Zooey. They both have a mutual respect for the other as Zooey’s recklessness and hedonism meets Ursula’s rebelliousness as she copes with her ‘awkward tween phase’. Cantero writes Ursula wonderfully, and there’s a particularly poignant passage towards the end of the novel as she and Adrian (who makes his dislike of her obvious) rant about their young lives, finally providing them with a connection – even if it is just a slight one.
There’s no doubting that you will pick either Adrian or Zooey to root for as you read through the novel. Personally, I found myself siding with Zooey more as not only was she the more exciting character, but the most honourable and morally balanced – more likely because of her hedonistic attitude rather than despite it. Cantero has a lot to say about acceptance, tolerance, and opening our eyes to what’s around us, and he does it with humour and a whole lot of heart. I won’t lie, I was genuinely concerned for our heroes towards the end of the novel because I’d invested so much in them as I read. For a ‘crime caper’ that’s quite an achievement.
If I were to make any criticism of This Body’s Not Big Enough for Both of Us it’s that a couple of times sentences are an entire paragraph long and it disrupts the flow. Also, one particular character, Lieutenant Greggs, is reduced to a few tiny moments at the beginning of the novel. Wise-cracking, strong, with a ‘no BS’ attitude, she had the potential to be great within the story. Cantero leaves his latest with the potential for books about AZ, and if he does I hope she’s more prominent. Another side character is Gwen the doctor who diagnosed the twins. Supportive yet authoritative, I envisioned Bea Arthur when I read her. This is a good thing and we need more of her please.
Riffing off classic crime novels by the likes of Hammett, Chandler, Cain, and Westlake, Cantero has created a P.I. caper for the modern era.
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