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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Fun with Dick by John Dolan is a gripping psychological thriller with a quirky protagonist. From the start, the reader meets the protagonist, twenty-five-year-old Richard Blackheart whose life is dull. But there is more to him than that. First, he hates his name, even though it has a royal ring to it. Second, his friends call him, “Dick,” so his name becomes Dick Blackheart from Hampstead. His father is a marine insurance specialist and his mother “a gin drinker and social butterfly.” He has an older and only sibling who is the beneficiary to the family largesse. He wasn’t bullied in school because his friends tend to be losers like him. But then, something awesome happens when he meets Mr. Henry Browne, an editor for Bright Sparks Publishing. For lack of what to talk about, he shares his idea of How to Die, Alone, Smelly and Unloved. That alone is the one thing that would make him a hero, and the journey to accomplishing that dream begins in this novel. How it ends is for the reader to find out.
This is a wonderful book, but it is disturbing. The protagonist has been seeing a shrink, Dr. Finkelstein, who has had a great impact on his life and who has also inspired his idea of writing the ultimate non-self-help book. The writing works well in the first-person narrative. The voice is strong and absorbing. The way the protagonist talks about himself and about his work and colleagues creates the quirkiness that elevates the writing. This is a hugely entertaining and delightful read that explores self-pity and looks at a character’s struggle to get out of anonymity and obscurity. It’s a page-turner that is well-crafted with engaging dialogues and strong streams of consciousness.