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Twelve-Step Fandango    by Chris Haslam order for
Twelve-Step Fandango
by Chris Haslam
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Martin Brock is finally waking up to the idea that his life is going nowhere. He's high most of the time on whatever substance he can obtain. He lives in a ruined Spanish castle with Luisa, a young woman who demands that he supply her with drugs. Martin enhances his highs with alcohol and cigarettes. A Brit by nationality, he longs for more than the filthy hovel he shares with Luisa. The purity of the drugs he ingests is in question, and the chance of making a big score somewhere beyond his reach.

Then an old acquaintance roars into town on his motorcycle, his leg infected from an accident. As the friend's tale unfolds, Martin sees his chance to split the castle and live the big life. This is where the story gets even more bizarre as Martin, determined to live his dream, embarks on a journey fraught with peril. His head is really messed up and it's a miracle he manages to survive at all. Though Martin is an anti-hero and a real loser, somehow, even with his dependence on drugs, alcohol and nicotine, I rooted for him.

Luisa is an albatross around Martin's neck, as mean and nasty as he is insecure. The bit players do the jobs intended for them with great gusto - frightening to say the least. The area in Spain around which the story revolves sounds exciting. But I wouldn't want to go there now, since I would find it hard to divorce Martin and his exploits from the scene. Twelve-Step Fandango is a disturbing book.

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