Mechanic of Fortune by Peter Bollington

mof-coverIn the ‘bad old days’ when there were a dozen publishing power houses in New York that controlled the industry, everyone knew what a genre books was. If it was a mystery, it started with a murder.  If it was romance, it was boy-meets-girl-loses-girl-gets-girl-back. It was all very simple and quite generic, the root of the term genre.  But all of that has changed.  The industry has outsized and now books that would not have gotten so much as a nod a decade ago are in print.

Mechanic of Fortune  (Inkwater Press, 393 pages) is such a book.  It is not genre in any sense of the word.  It is a mix of literature, mystery genre, satire and stream of consciousness.  This is not the book for the person who is looking for a straight-as-an-arrow plotline.  The narrative wanders frequently and introduces characters which may or may not move the plot line along but are, in their own way, telling.  The baseline story is that of a private detective who is hired to find an absconding ex-husband – which is an odd assignment in itself – and the adventures of the detective along the way including (of course) a sultry femme fatale, scoundrels and characters who are designed to mirror pop figures of the day.

If you are looking for a quick read with the predictable blasts of entertainment (chase, shoot-out, emotional gushing at the appropriate or inappropriate moment) you get from a genre book, this is not a read for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a book that moves slowly and offer a plethora of side trips – some worth your while and other not so – this novel might be worth your while.  It is well written but is a slow read. It is not the kind of book you would take the beach for a weekend.   But it is the kind of book where you will stumble over hidden gems every chapter or so and that keeps you reading.

Steven C. Levi, author of Tales of Barranco Lagarto.


At Santa Nella he used a laundromat, during which a man who looked like Alex Villyard entered, selected a dryer, but tossed in only a bandana. This man then sat glancing at a magazine while mostly staring toward James. The bandana heaved and fell inside the dryer like a fly knocking at the kitchen window.  James’ machine finished and stood silent, but up and down the laundromat the portholes of the dryers spun and tossed their contents, nothing available. The man with the heaving bandana resumed a long dark stare at him, watching continuously as he removed the wet clothing into a laundry basket.

2 thoughts on “Mechanic of Fortune by Peter Bollington

  1. This is an odd review for this site, whose readers are looking for literary fiction, not genre books. No one is looking for a “quick read” or a book to “take [to] the beach.” I’m left wondering what Levi’s point is. That Bollington’s novel, because “It is not genre in any sense of the word,” is an appropriate work for Dactyl Review?

    I don’t think the reviewer’s history of the publishing world is correct either. Non-genre and genre books have always been published, but these days it’s probably mostly genre. It doesn’t seem true that “all that has changed.”

    What is a straight-as-an-error plotline? I’m not sure if that’s clever or an error.

    This seems like a sloppy, confused review. Not sure it’s up the the quality of this site. The quote from the book sounds interesting though.

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