Bored and irritated with every aspect of his life, Joe Kerson is in the throes of a major midlife crisis. However, his mundane existence takes a major turn when he meets a mobster. On the spur of the moment, Joe decides to steal the mobster’s luxurious yacht and embark upon a whirlwind cruise around the world. Accompanied by a ragtag band of party-animal college students, Joe cuts a drunken swath across several countries, living it up with wild sex and drugs every single night. But the mobster and his friends are hot on their trail, and Joe and his crew teeter on the brink of danger at every turn.
The midlife crisis is a common theme across entertainment but rarely is it as well-done as in Nick LaTorre’s splendid novel JOE’S ODYSSEY. An uproarious read, the book is jam-packed with funny moments, and sharp-witted humor abounds. LaTorre narrates the action in a quirky, delightful manner while managing to juggle numerous characters at once. But behind the humorous moments, there is a palpable poignancy. This rich pathos prompts the reader to question a few deep questions. For instance, what are the payoffs in living an ordinary, by-the-numbers life? What are the consequences of taking potentially life-changing risks? LaTorre invites the reader to ponder these and other matters all while enjoying a wickedly funny story.
As far as protagonists are concerned, Joe really has nothing going for him. He’s the average guy with a boring job and an unhappy family life. There are times in the story when he comes across as almost unlikeable, given the selfish nature of his actions and motivations. And yet, he’s so relatable that readers just can’t help rooting for him. His hedonistic journey is fascinating and leaves readers guessing as to what he’ll do next. The Schmorde, his crew of pleasure-seeking students, makes a fine cast of supporting characters, youthful complements to Joe’s world-weariness. Equally entertaining is the band of bumbling international gangsters who follow Joe across the world. It’s quite often hilarious to see them try and fail over and over again to rub out Joe and his cohorts. In addition, there’s a spot-on political commentary buried in the criminals’ antics that is thought-provoking and entertaining.
Nick LaTorre’s splendid novel, JOE’S ODYSSEY, is an amusing and playful look at a man in the throes of a midlife crisis and includes some poignant moments that may prompt readers to ask themselves some deep questions.
~Heather McNamara for IndieReader