Patrick Warner is an award-winning writer of fiction and poetry, and his new novel is a testament to his talents: few writers can pair humour and biting insight into humanity like this man. As you read, you’ll alternate between busting a gut at one paragraph, and being floored by the kind of astute passage you’ll want to share with the nearest person to you.
The writing in One Hit Wonders does many things immediately: it showcases Warner’s way with words, gets a hook in you on page 1, creates an enigmatic character or two you’re immediately happy to be reading about, and builds a sense of mystery that’ll keep you flipping the pages: what happened to Lila, the recently deceased wife of our writerly, one-hit wonder narrator, Freddy?
In a nutshell, Freddy is reeling, and recounting the story of who Lila was, and who she was to him, and she’s no ordinary person — she’s an ethereal being, worthy of our interest. We meet the people Lila knew and drew into her enigmatic realm, which is to say, her potential killers. Including a washed-up and coked-out ex golfer, and the two small-time criminals he runs with.
And of course, some readers might be suspicious of Freddy himself: it’s clear from his deeply personal story he had every motivation for a crime of passion himself. Lila wasn’t always faithful. Here’s a line to sum up Lila and all she longed for: “Some time in between the age of 25 and 35, love changed from a feeling to an idea.”
The story of an enigmatic woman caught in a lethal lover’s triangle is all the better for being both unpredictable and quite funny. Warner is able to probe humanity with relentless satire and insight. This novel lives up to the claim on the back cover about being “brutally funny and obsessively readable.”
This book shows the importance of humor alongside tragedy. They’re the two things people like and respond to in books, so why not marry them together as he does here, right? The answer is most of us writers can’t muster this marriage of humor and drama and tension quite so masterfully.
Cast everything you think you know about a murder-mystery from your head; Warner has rewired the genre adding a vibrant new jolt of electricity and eccentricity to it.
There is no boundary between literary and genre fiction here, Warner roams in the best realms of each medium, satisfying, basically, anyone who likes any book for any reason. The book also succeeds at doing what literature has always strived to do: make us ponder life and love.
The novel’s wily cast of characters are not only “characters,” in the colloquial sense, but ones so well-drawn by Warner you won’t soon forget them. Naturally, this solid characterization betters the book.
There is nothing flat about these people, and their stories come alive more because of the crafting of the characters. One Hit Wonders is a sexually charged and drug-fuelled romp through a truer modern st. John’s than those romanticized tourism ads.