Reviewed by JOHN SCHWADA
Media Consultant & Freelance Columnist/Journalist
Jon Fixx, the protagonist in a novel of the same name by author Jason Squire Fluck, is a creature of love. Fixx’s own love life resembles a tortured, Hieronymus Bosch-fabricated landscape of disappointment and betrayal. In one corner of this grotesque tableaux, Fixx can be found cringing in a closet, listening as his college sweetheart – aptly named Jennifer Breaker – wildly couples with Fixx’s favorite professor. Later a miserable Fixx stalks another ex-girlfriend who has jilted him in favor of that most emasculating of rivals, a Frenchman. With so many humiliations under his belt, Fixx must sneak into funerals to draw hope from the eulogies.
By Mr. Fluck’s reckoning, no one is better equipped to entertain and flatter young couples with tales of their own perfect love than the hapless Fixx. Yes, the love-lorn Fixx earns his living by chronicling the love-stories of soon-to-be-wed clients. He’s a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac who’s unlucky in love himself but clever at channeling the romances of his clients through his art.
Fixx is not content to simply dish out frothy nonsense for his customers however. To do his job well requires that he probe the betrothed couples, their friends and relatives with questions in order to squeeze out the facts of the romance. Sometimes the facts are inconvenient, and Fixx is not above letting fiction gloss over the truth in order to make for a palatable story. His discretion has served him well we are led to believe. At least so far.
Fixx suddenly finds himself on terra incognita when he’s hired by Tony Vespucci to write the love-story of his soon-to-be-wed daughter, Maggie, and his future son-in-law, Marco. Even before meeting him, Fixx learns Vespucci is a New York City Mafia crime boss. That gives Fixx pause but Vespucci sweetens the deal with a bonus as he ominously insists that whatever Fixx writes must be kept “inside the family.”
What really trips up Fixx as he tackles his new assignment is that he becomes enamored of Maggie. At their first clumsy meeting in an elevator, she instantly reminds Fixx of his fictional beau ideal, Mercedes, the Catalan beauty in The Count of Monte Cristo who remained faithful to the wrongly imprisoned Edmond Dantes despite years of separation. Fixx’s affection for Maggie and his growing friendship with the whole Vespucci clan creates a messy complication. Things get downright treacherous when Marco, the son of Vespucci’s partner in crime and a very dangerous fellow in his own right, becomes jealous of Fixx. Matters really get balled up when Fixx discovers a secret about Marco’s history. If that’s not enough to boil the pot, a nasty-tempered FBI agent dogs Fixx about his dealings with Vespucci. The agent’s vague threats, a mysterious break-in and a violent encounter with hooded assailants all prompt Fixx to call for help. Fixx’s calvary consists of a refrigerator-sized former soldier and a kung-fu fighter who wears women’s clothes.
Mr. Fluck’s first book is an entertaining read, and it begs the question: is Jon Fixx to become a franchise player in future works by Mr. Fluck? If so we look forward to reading more about Fixx’s adventures.