A Madcap Mix of Noir and Romance

Reviewed by P.J. Lazos
Author of the novella collection Six Sisters and the soon-to-be-published environmental thriller Oil and Water.

Webster’s defines noir as “1: crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings.” Jon Fixx, one of Kirkus Review’s top Indie Books of 2015 is that and more, a madcap mix of noir and romance, a fabulously fun tale of a niche romance writer who’s life’s been on a downward spiral since his girlfriend, Sara, dumped him. The story manages to be predictable in the crime story genre kind of way, and also surprising because the main character is not a sleaze ball, or a criminal, or even a victim, but a guy who just happens to be good at what he does and which lands him in a predicament he can’t write his way out of. What I loved about Jon Fixx was the way the road took a sharp left turn every time you thought you knew where the story was going.

Jon Fixx is a romantic at heart and he’s turned that trait into a lucrative career. He’ll write your love story and package it up all pretty with the help of his best friend, Luci, who handles the artistic content, making you the star of your own show and simultaneously creating a wonderful keepsake to remember the event. Simple, yet elegant, right? Unfortunately for our hero, wrong. It’s not even close to being that simple. The novel starts with a post-breakup, traumatized Fixx who just can’t grasp the idea that he’s no longer numero uno on ex-girlfriend Sara’s speed dial. He heads off on a solo road trip to Las Vegas to clear his head and regain some composure. True, she ditched him in a pitiless and cold-blooded manner, and true, he needed some time to adjust, but calling her for months afterwards in the middle of the night from various pay phones in the L.A. area just to hear her voice, then hanging up on her without saying a word borders on lunacy. It’s all relative though since the real lunacy is Fixx standing in the parking lot at a Howard Johnson’s rest stop, banging his head against the metal frame of the phone booth, trying to still the inner voices begging him to make the call while his conscious mind begs him to stop. The result is a few moments of blackout, a nice lump on his head, and a new friend, Donovan, the security guy who takes pity on him.

The breakup resulted in not only a broken heart but a severe case of writer’s block, a problem if you are writing under deadline. Fixx tries to beg off an assignment — a story about a particularly horrible high-profile couple — but the father who happens to be the Los Angeles District Attorney will not allow it and demands Fixx finish the piece. He does, but tells the truth about them in an uncensored and brutally honest manner. Suddenly the wedding is off, the parties are furious, and Fixx is at risk of getting his faced smashed in at every turn. Surprise — things get worse when he’s asked to write his special brand of love story for a mob boss’s daughter and her fiancé. Fixx takes the job — as if he has a choice — and finds himself growing more and more attracted to the boss’s daughter, the mob boss’s daughter.

I had a bit of trouble initially with the way the book bounces back and forth in time, but the story is compelling, fresh and funny, so any momentary confusion I may have experienced from a non-linear telling was forgotten in all the fun.

The pace is quick, the narration light and airy, the sense of drama never over the top. There’s no sex, no bad words, and no gun violence — people only use their fists in this book — a refreshing throwback to a more manageable time. Crime + romance = irresistible noir = Jon Fixx. I can’t wait to see the movie.

Review originally posted by P.J. Lazos on her blog Green Life Blue Water.

When is the movie coming out??

Reviewed by Piper Templeton
Author, Rain Clouds and Waterfalls

When is the movie coming out? Jon Fixx by Jason Squire Fluck would make a fantastic film—it captivates a wide audience with its suspense, action, drama, and so much heart.

The title character earns his living in a unique way: He writes true love stories for couples; mainly engaged couples but also for people reaching anniversary milestones. A tender-hearted romantic himself, Jon Fixx is ideal for this profession. He’s sensitive, perceptive and discreet. Jon’s a refreshing male protagonist: He’s not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve, and he’ll fall apart over lost love.

The book opens with Jon falling apart after he is callously dumped by his live-in girlfriend. This emotional setback coincides with a string of professional setbacks and challenges as well. He angers the powerful Los Angeles District Attorney and his dysfunctional family when Jon writes the absolute truth about his daughter and her fiancée, a truly despicable couple. The powerful family declares revenge and becomes a threat to Jon. Around the same time, a powerful New York Mafia boss summons Jon to write his engaged daughter’s love story. He makes him an offer he can’t refuse.

The plot divides its time between Los Angeles, Jon’s home, and New York City, the setting for the love story he’s writing for Vespucci’s daughter Maggie and her hostile fiancé, Marco. Tired of getting his butt kicked by his new-found enemies, Jon drives out to see Donovan, an impressive, strong, friendly security guard he encountered at the Howard Johnson’s during his post-breakup meltdown. Donovan agrees to quit his job and work as Jon’s own private bodyguard. He also brings Luci, his long-time friend and martial arts expert, to New York City. Luci is accustomed to accompanying Jon on his assignments as Luci works with Jon on creating the visuals for the novelettes he writes. It’s enjoyable reading the interaction among the three men; they each bring their own life experience to the table and complement one another.

When Jon meets the subject of his project, Maggie, he is taken aback by her beauty. More importantly, she’s a genuinely kind-hearted, intelligent person, the kind the reader knows that Jon deserves. He dismisses any feelings that surface. Perceptive Jon soon realizes that Vespucci may have hired him to unearth the truth about Marco. Not one to cower from a challenge, and motivated by his deep affection for Maggie, Jon sets in motion an elaborate plan to get to the truth while keeping him and his friends safe.

Jon Fixx is an edge of your seat read and one that is hard to put down. It’s rich in plot and character, and I want to read the next installment of it!

Review originally posted on bookscover2cover.com.

A novel that reaches new depth of hard-boiled crime fiction

Reviewed by Peter Durantine
Staff writer, Office of College Communications, Franklin & Marshall College
Freelance journalist – New York Times, Reuters, Philadelphia Daily News

Just when you think a genre has been plucked of unique characters and compelling plot lines, a new detective novel comes along to show that the depth of hard-boiled crime fiction has yet to be plumbed. There’s still room for more flawed gumshoes with messed up lives.

The title character in “Jon Fixx,” by Jason Squire Fluck, has an unusual line of business, writing sweet love novellas about brides and grooms that they can keep and refer to for the rest of their lives. It’s not the kind of profession that should get anyone in trouble, but Jon Fixx finds a way, mostly because he has trouble dealing with his own life – his girlfriends don’t stay around for long, when they leave him it’s because they found someone else to sleep with, and he has problems with self-discipline and compulsive behavior.

Jon Fixx – and most everyone who takes a liking to him calls him by his full name – goes through life not sure where he’s heading, but he’s always willing to ride the currents to see where they take him. Often they take him into trouble, in part because he can’t always exercise better judgment.

The novel opens with a jilted Fixx stalking his lawyer girlfriend whose new boyfriend sends an FBI agent, a relative, to threaten Fixx unless he leaves his girlfriend alone. A distraught Fixx goes for a drive and ends up in a restaurant ladies restroom, where he sits in a stall to remember the time he and his girlfriend had sex in a public restroom, his lonely heart thoughts interrupted by a muscular security guard, Donovan, who befriends him.

As Fixx goes through life, making a mess of things for himself, he finds friends like Donovan who seem to understand him and want to look out for him. Those kinds of friends come in handy when he’s hired by a mafia don to write a novella for his soon-to-be-married daughter and that’s when things start to happen that send up red flags. He soon realizes there is another reason the don has hired him. He starts to investigate and is soon facing danger and death.

For a first-time novelist, Fluck weaves a good story. He has a strong grasp on dialogue, his characters have meat on their bones, and his humor is reminiscent of Raymond Chandler’s wit. When the mafia don’s bodyguard rescues Fixx from getting pummeled by a rather large piece of meat who is possibly dating one or both of the twin blondes that Fixx had encountered, the protagonist says with awe: “I had never seen fear up close, but staring into the giant’s eyes I saw how true fear manifested itself in the human body.” With those kinds of observations and his self-deprecating humor I came to like Jon Fixx, his repartee, and his friends.

Having read a fair amount of crime fiction, I found Fluck’s story unique to the genre. It wanders down paths that you’re not sure where they’re leading yet you want to keep reading to find out. You’re never disappointed, and that’s what good story-telling is all about. I hope to read more of Jon Fixx.