~by Marc Blatte
Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed by Marc Blatte is the author's debut novel. Although a little outside my usual reading habits, there were several things that caught my interest with this book. First of all was Blatte's connection with Kenyon College--an institution I have some connections with as well. Secondly, the featuring of the music industry in the plot appealed to me. (In addition to being an new author, Blatte is also a respected songwriter and producer and has been nominated for a Grammy in the past). Finally, I was intrigued by the mention of a "kinky female wrestler" in the book's description. Because of these elements, and others, I was happy to accept a copy of Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed to review.
It's four a.m. when the body of a young man is found shot outside of a New York City nightclub. No one has any idea why and it is up to one of New York's finest detectives and his team to track down and follow any leads that they might discover. Not long after the investigation begins, a hot-shot lawyer to the rich and famous is also found dead. The seemingly unrelated cases potentially may be connected, but the questions remain: Who committed the crimes and why? A tableau of characters, ranging from gritty ex-cons to an admired philanthropist, to successful music producers, take center stage in this fast paced, hip-hop, noir crime novel.
While the rhythm of the plot was a little off at times, the rhythm of the language was consistently spot on and was actually one of my favorite things about the book--it just flows fantastically. The use of slang is quite prevalent and is not strictly limited to the dialogue. I could see how some readers might not appreciate this but I didn't really mind, especially as it gave the text an appropriately urban feel. Granted, I'm not sure how realistic or authentic the language actually is (I'm originally from very rural Ohio, yo). Because the story didn't follow just one main character, but rather bounced from one to another to another and back again, I never felt particularly invested in any one of them and some of the secondary characters tended to blend together as a result. Regardless, the two that probably stood out the most were Detective Salvatore Messina (aka Black Sallie Blue Eyes) and one of the prime suspects--the enigmatic hip hop star wannabe, Scholar.
Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed felt very similar to the first part of an episode of Law & Order, which to me is not necessarily a bad thing. Albeit, the book has considerably more humor. I never questioned that the case would be solved, so some plot tension was lost on me, but it was interesting to see how the scenario was developed and the connections revealed. Some elements and details did seem to be included for their "shock factor" more than anything else (although for me, it wasn't shocking at all). Overall, the book was quite enjoyable and a very quick read. I'm not sure if Blatte intends to write any further novels featuring Black Sallie Blue Eyes or not, but there is definitely a market out there for them.