This is not a book; it’s a cartoon in prose form. Edgar Cantero continues to terrorize (or delight) fans of camp and utter pastiche with his newest release, This Body Isn’t Big Enough for Both of Us, a loony detective novel that introduces A.Z. Kimrean, a private eye who’s really a pair of fraternal twins smashed into one body. Fans of last summer’s Meddling Kids, which simultaneously skewered and waxed nostalgic for Scooby-Doo, should love the way This Body both lampshades and satirizes every neonoir and police procedural cliche it can get its mitts on.
Adrian and Zooey Kimrean are fun explorations of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: two beings in one person bent destroying each other. Adrian has an eidactic memory, a bottomless pit of knowledge, and a complete inability to emotionally connect with people beyond himself. Together, they’re known as A.Z. They are a genetic chimera. Adrian controls the left half of the brain. Zooey is charming, sweet, and creative, but totally without impulse control, which leaves her with addiction issues. She’s the right half of the brain. Each twin can control the whole body, but the DNA of different sections belongs to different twins: for example, the left hand, eye, and the whole heart to Zooey; the right hand, eye, and liver to Adrian. Scientifically impossible? No, surprisingly, just highly improbable.
These polar opposite personalities find themselves fresh out of a mental institution, into a shootout with a gangster, and then into the middle of a sting operation to take down the Lyon crime family in San Carnal, California. A.Z. teams up with undercover cop (and unrequited crush? It’s hard to tell when Zooey hits on everything in sight) Danny Mojave to figure who’s murdering top lieutenants and then framing the Yakuza for the crimes. The P.I. and the cop tear down every genre trope thrown in their path, often with fourth wall-busting quips. Add in the mob boss’s snarky, genre-savvy tween daughter, and you’ve got a recipe for nonstop shootouts when Adrian and Zooey are actively trying to kill each other.
Despite their best efforts, A.Z. has a hard time lampooning every flaw and convention that they bring on themselves. They do not manage to joke their way out of some tediously choreographed fight scenes, which would be more valuable in smaller doses. Furthermore, Zooey’s alleged nymphomania (which I suspect this is nothing like real nymphomania) makes it difficult to read actual reactions to other characters – especially when a minor character’s exit turns into a significant plot point. Kimrean’s greatest weakness could also be seen as their greatest flaw, though: the genre deconstruction. It’s laid on thick, and frequently toes the line between fresh and stale.
Have you watched The Last Action Hero ever again since you saw it the first time? I’m not throwing shade, because I totally have, and this book is for us. Shootouts beget car chases beget more shootouts and so forth. I spent the weekend on the couch reading this book, which is the best place to read it. Recommend who anybody who’s in the mood for a light read and just needs to zone out for a while. Check out the author’s website for more news about his books and hopefully of a sequel.
Favorite Quote: “He considered it a cheap trick: filling those boring transition scenes between action sequences with inner monologues summing up the events thus far and building airborne castles of hypotheses just to meet page quotas and comply with publishing contracts that assign value to literary works by the ounce.”
Page count: 245
Three out of five stars.