Remember the film, D.O.A. starring Dennis Quaid? The one about the college professor that gets poisoned by one of his contemporaries in an effort to hide the fact he killed a student writer so he could plagiarise his amazeballs novel? That’s what I think of when I think of John L. Monk, author of the Dan Jenkins Cycle. I want to kill him and publish his books as mine. Will he take this as a complement I wonder? Or will he file a restraining order? Not that it matters. I don’t know where he lives and frankly, I’m too old to go on a road trip without my wife and kids. The point is: his S%!$ is good.
Back when I published my first novel, I stumbled upon KICK, the first book in Monk’s Dan Jenkins Cycle series. It’s a sci-fi/supernatural story about a guy who, after committing suicide, finds himself bouncing in and out of bodies of some very terrible people for three weeks at a time in hopes of delivering some cosmic justice. Imagine Quantum Leap but with edge and great heaping tablespoons of snark. It’s the kind of read that leaves you giggling and shaking your head well past bedtime. While the best compliment I can ever give a book is by saying, “I wish I wrote that,” the best compliment my wife gives is: “What the hell are you reading?”
By the time I’d finished the second book in the series, FOOL’S RIDE,
I’d come to understand the genius of these books is in the first person narrative. The publishing industry calls this “the voice.” So many novels these days are written in first person, but fail because they center on people that just aren’t that interesting. Not the case with Dan Jenkins. This guy is smart, clever, ironic, stubborn and an occasional a-hole. I love that he takes great pleasure in acting the fool and making others uncomfortable. But deep down, he’s just a good soul trying his best to do right. He doesn’t always succeed, but when he does, magic happens. He’s the anti-hero we’d all love to be. You know, if we were dead. And found ourselves hopping in and out of bodies for months at a time.
This week I finished the third book in the series, HOPPER HOUSE. While KICK and FOOL’S RIDE were episodic, HOPPER HOUSE encompasses a full story. It also gives us fans what we’ve been longing for: answers to some of the bigger questions. I love that this world is opening up, introducing us to new reoccurring characters that will help address who or what is behind Dan’s plight. But always present is that sense of unbridled adventure, like anything can happen at any time and just when we think we have it all figured out, we get the rug pulled out from under us again and again.
Self-published authors are ubiquitous these days, and often it’s hard
to ferret out the decent from the good and the good from the great. John L. Monk belongs in this last category. He is, in my humble
opinion, as good as any traditionally published author. He will be, very soon, the guy heavily pursued by the publishing giants to “step on up to the majors.” I, for one, hope he stays independent. Not for any ill will for the publishing industry, but because I’m a selfish bastard that likes getting great books for cheap! If you want to see what the fuss is all about, you can pick up the first book in the series, KICK, at Amazon or Apple. When you’re two chapters in and need FOOL’S RIDE “like now,” it’s available at both Amazon and Apple too. Lastly, you can buy the recently released HOPPER HOUSE to complete your set or just save even more money by buying The Jenkins Cycle Boxed Set: Binge Edition and be done with it.
I know you’ll love it as I have.
Or something is very, very wrong with you.