Abner Redder bought the Golden Jackpot Hotel after experiencing a double windfall—he won the lottery and then an oil company offered him four hundred million dollars for the land his house sat on the very next day. He now lives at the hotel with his wife, Tutty, and his mother, Mama Lulu, who is mentally unwell. He is looking to hire an assistant when 16-year-old Tango Valentine happens to arrive with his talking animals in tow — Fred Valentine, the St. Bernard; Elvyra, the Siamese cat; Chipper, the macaw; and Joe, the cigar-smoking Sumatran orangutan. Tango is seeking a space to perform with his menagerie, but Tutty tells him that her husband hates animals and will never agree to host them. Instead, she suggests he interview for the assistant job. Abner hires him, and soon enough Tango and the animals are all working various hospitality jobs at the hotel.
Vincent Glen’s THE FRED VALENTINE SHOW has a creative structure that works to its advantage. It opens with a monologue delivered by Fred Valentine himself, and then segues into the main plot surrounding the casino, which is presented as the performance put on by Tango and the animals. Unfortunately, Fred’s monologue jokes are tasteless and not particularly funny. For instance, one revolves around former president Donald Trump being chased by a “gang of black teenagers” and seeking safety on the other side of the border wall, which Fred warns him is also unsafe due to the presence of “Mexican gangs.” The punchline of the joke suggests Trump will be sexually assaulted by these gangs. The highlights of the novel all involve author Vincent Glen’s wild, surrealist flights of narrative fancy. Mama Lulu, for instance, suffers from delusions in which she believes herself to be a superhero character called Madam Cureall. She is also inordinately attached to a cuckoo clock that houses a miniature farmer named Benny, who emerges from the clock at three a.m. to berate her. However, Glen’s basic writing skills could be improved. While the plot is very entertaining and imaginative, he has a tendency toward repetition and using two adjectives where one would do — the casino has a “dazzling, gleaming gold curtain,” and Elvyra can shapeshift into a “stunning, beautiful six-foot Mexican woman.” His dialogue is often similarly stilted.
In Vincent Glen’s THE FRED VALENTINE SHOW, a delightfully absurdist romp, a ragtag group of talking animals and their teenage handler find employment at a failing Las Vegas casino. Somewhat hindered by its author’s crude jokes, it will be appreciated most by readers with an edgy sense of humor.
~Lisa Butts for IndieReader