Cover Image: Born Slippy

Born Slippy

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<i>Born Slippy</i> is a noir novel about two friends who chose different paths but can’t help but be intertwined.  Their protagonist Frank is up-and-coming house builder just trying to make his way.  The antagonist Dmitri, is a crude and amoral Englishman, who is willing to do anything to become rich.   <i>Born Slippy</i> is the debut novel by author Tom Lutz.

Frank is working on a construction site with a less than reputable business partner when 18-year-old Dimitri shows up just a their only employee quits.  They have to hire Dimitri even though he doesn't know anything about construction.  Frank and Dimitri spend the summer working, living in a tent, and drinking at a local bar.  Frank is constantly shocked at how morally reprehensible Dimitri can be at times.  As years go on the two meet, now and again, with Dimitri giving Frank the impression that Frank is being his mentor.  On their last visit together, Dimitri implies that he is in trouble and he asks Frank to take care of his family if anything happens. He has put aside money in a bank in Tokyo.  Something does happen and Frank decides help his friend but finds he is being drawn into Dimitris world.
 
Tom Lutz is excellent at developing characters.  The characters are compelling.  Frank, you are almost cheering on while Dmitri you really begin to hate.  Frank is a nice person but he is never sure of himself.  He's not very good at relationships and he struggles with everything he attempts.  Everything comes easy to Dimitri.  You have to hate him.  He thinks he's funny but he has no conscience and he is a boor.  Lutz does an amazing job of contrasting the two characters and yet linking them together.

The story has a good flow and is easy to read.  There is no twist but rather an unexpected ride down a slippery slope, which makes the title of the book very appropriate.

Some scenes are quite graphic and profane especially when it comes to Dimitri, his language, and his treatment of women.  As a reader you have to be prepared for some parts that are quite gross and may be hard to take.  Interestingly enough, it reminds me of the movie <i>Trainspotting</i> which made the song <i>Born Slippy</i> famous.

I recommend this book to or any reader who likes offbeat characters. I give this to the story a 3 on 5 primarily because I wasn't that enthralled with the story. I want thank NetGalley and Repeater Books for providing me with a digital copy of the story for which I have written this review voluntarily.
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Tom Lutz's Born Slippy kept me reading late into the night but it was worth the trip. Without getting too much into the plot, I will say that for a first foray into noir fiction, it's surprisingly good! Built with a very strong plot that never falters once and superbly drawn characters, it's a delightful fictional romp. Finally it's funny, darkly funny....Go ahead & enjoy it! You won't be disappointed. 

Many thanks to Netgalley and the editor for the opportunity to read this wonderful novel prior to its release date
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Born Slippy by Tom Lutz is a provocative, globetrotting thriller with an engaging story line and interesting characters that readers will love! The story centers around the relationship between Frank and Dmitry--Frank, a struggling handyman and Dmitry, his younger sociopathic worker. Frank is drawn to Dmitry and the bad that goes along with it. This one will keep you reading until the very end!
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Frank Baltimore is a carpenter and would-be philosopher in New England and manages to score a gig in the upmarket Hartford area. Dmitry is an 18 year old from Liverpool on summer break and works with Frank in Hartford. Dmitry embodies all the characteristics of toxic masculinity but becomes fascinated with Frank's philosophical prowess and reading habits.

The pair form an odd relationship over the years with Dmitry drifting in and out of Frank's life. Frank's business slowly becomes successful, while whizz kid Dmitry makes and loses millions by calculating risk better than most whilst dealing with the world's dictators and other underworld figures. When Dmitry's building in Taipei is blown up, and Frank is wondering what to do with his life after his relationship has failed, Frank decides to go to Taipei to help Dmitry.

An story with a difference but sharp-witted, this tale kept me engaged all the way through. However, if there was a point to be made, I seem to have missed it. Nevertheless I quite enjoyed it.
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I received an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review 

I’m not sure what I expected with this book, but it definitely exceeded whatever those expectations may have been. A good look at class, immigration, geopolitics and masculinity in a very contemporary noir setting.  An enjoyable murder mystery for people paying attention to the headlines
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‘The moment when everything came together, and everything started to fall apart.’

When Frank Baltimore, a carpenter in his mid-twenties with a dream of building his own boat, meets teenage Dmitry, a relative of a distant friend, as they work together on a building project, his life is set on an improbable rollercoaster of a journey. As their friendship develops over the years, Dmitry’s life gradually starts to reveal itself to Frank and, as we move back and forward in time from their first meeting to an explosion at Dmitry’s office in Taipei, Frank becomes embroiled in events that overwhelm him. Dmitry amasses a fortune, some of which is banked under Frank’s name, and Frank gradually starts to realise the corruption and illegality of Dmitry’s enterprise, and the wider global financial world. All of this is complicated by the fact that Frank has, of course, fallen head over heels for Dmitry’s wife Yuli.

As Frank criss-crosses the globe trying to find answers, his jetlag and disorientation become a metaphor for what is happening to his world. All he wants is to sail off in his dream boat, but as he becomes more and more trapped in Dmitry’s web of deceit and money-laundering he finds himself wanted by the police, threatened with violence and suddenly very rich indeed.

This new novel from Tom Lutz is partly a satire on global capitalism, part thriller, and also an homage to the power of words and books; Frank is a voracious reader, and there are frequent nods and allusions to a whole range of literary genres throughout the book. Towards the end of the novel Frank looks back on what has happened:
‘He tried sometimes, out on the open sea, to figure out what it all meant, why so much of it seemed to be scripted from things he had read, whether that meant he had more to do with engineering the whole thing than he thought.’

This is an engaging page-turner, a moral tale for our time where the little people are shafted by the rich and powerful. Frank (aptly named?) is an everyman character caught up in events that change his life completely, but over which he has no control. It is a tale of how life chews us up and spits us out at the other end; we are somehow changed, but frankly none the wiser. I thoroughly enjoyed this and would recommend it for sure. 4 stars.

(With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this title.)
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