I like a lot of things in life. I like books. I like books with long titles. I like books with long titles that are a little absurd. I like books with long titles that are a little absurd and in some way involve an underdog. I like books with long titles that are a little absurd, in some way involve an underdog, and promise a lot doom. So, what’s not to love about a book with a long title that’s a little absurd, in some way involves an underdog, and promises a lot doom in the way that Alan Lennox and the Temp Job of Doom does?
I’d never heard of Brian Olsen before and, as is my monthly just-before-pay-day ritual, I was browsing the Kindle store’s variety of free books to tide me over when I came across this little beauty. I would have read it irrespective of the content just for its title, but what began as an adventure in me being cheap ended up being a really fun read that I would recommend to everyone. Because who doesn’t enjoy a book with a long title that’s a little absurd, in some way involves an underdog, and promises a lot doom? Nobody, that’s who.
Alan Lennox, Caitlin Ross, Mark Park and Dakota Bell are four friends and roommates trying to live the American Dream. Well, not really, they’re all just trying to do enough to pay rent, but that’s beside the point. Dakota works for Amalgamated Synergy, a giant corporation that has its fingers in virtually every pile imaginable. The odd thing, though, is that Dakota has nothing to do. She’s paid enormous amounts of money to work in a department that has no assignments and no goals. Not that most would have a problem with this subsidised down-time, but Dakota’s not one of those people. Dakota begins to investigate, and things start getting strange.
Caitlin, an actress in the singer/dancer/model/actress/waitress sense, is invited to read the phonetic alphabet for an undisclosed Amalgamated Synergy project. Mark, a personal trainer, discovers that his gym has just been bought out by Amalgamated Synergy. Alan discovers that he’s been hired by Amalgamated Synergy to temp in place of someone who hasn’t left, but who is then subsequently murdered by his best friend. Then there’s Alan’s new squeeze who, coincidentally, happens to be defending the programmer of a game called Work It, a game that is now owned by Amalgamated Synergy. To the four friends, it all just seems a little too much to be complete coincidence.
To get to the bottom of why Amalgamated Synergy has taken such an interest in their lives and what insidious plans are in the making, the four will need to make sure that their collective brains and occasional sexual prowess are up to the task. This will include Mark having to fight off the advances of a deranged woman named Pickle, Alan having a date at a drag bar, Caitlin having to fight off an angry mob and the shenanigans of a very seductive Christian lady in a hardcore lesbian bar, and Dakota being the only one who seems to be able to avoid getting into any serious trouble.
The Writing Style
For someone who doesn’t have a lot of books under his belt Brian Olsen is very good at writing in a way that’s a dream to read. Alan Lennox and the Temp Job of Doom is one of those books that you’re a little annoyed at when you get to the end and think that it was far too short, and then check to realise that it was actually 300+ pages. The version I had very minor grammatical and spelling errors, but not so bad as to detract from the story and certainly nothing that the e-book’s free price tag won’t allow you to overlook.
The plot twist at the end that explains what’s going on didn’t exactly grab me. Not because it’s necessarily a bad ending, but because there weren’t enough clues leading up to it that would hint at this was where everything was going. It made sense in the overall context of the book, but it did nevertheless feel like 1/3 of a deus ex machina. Still, this should not override everything else that the book does right, and I’m still looking forward to reading the other three in the series.
Alan Lennox’s character spoke to me spiritually. He’s the a-typical gay guy endowed with thoroughly average looks, doesn’t really know what he’s doing with his life, takes great joy in video games and general slovenly behaviour, and is surrounded by friends who are equally as mad as he is.
This is a great departure from most of the books I’ve read that have had a gay character. Usually when there’s the slightest whiff of Greek-style man loving in a novel the reader is subjected to some Adonis-like character who spends most of his day crawling out from under a pile of men and is an asshole, or, alternatively, some Adonis-like character who could spend most of his day crawling out from under a pile of men but doesn’t realise how attractive he is, learns how attractive he is, then somehow lands up in a gangbang that would put most triple-penetrating porn stars to shame before finding true love with a handsome billionaire cowboy doctor philanthropist of Brazilian extraction.
Alan Lennox and the Temp Job of Doom is not that novel, and I’m very grateful for that small mercy.