Books

{Book Review} Cemetery Closing (Everything Must Go) By Jeff Strand

Andrew Mayhem is back!

From the twisted and hilarious mind of Jeff Strand comes the fifth installment in the popular Mayhem series. For readers it’s nearly been a decade since the last time Andrew and his best friend Roger Tanglen launched themselves into harm’s way for our enjoyment, but their story continues about a year after where book four left off. 

Not much has changed, Mayhem is trying to get his life under control. He no longer plans to work in the field of unlicensed investigations and he certainly has no interest in any more adventures that could get him killed. Those days are long gone.

So, imagine his surprise when the story opens with him, once again, held at gunpoint by a rambling lunatic. The man holding the gun is frantic while Mayhem tries not to fall asleep. This isn’t because he’s become immune to danger, his extreme fatigue is caused by the newborn triplets he and his wife are juggling at home. That’s right, within a year the Mayhem family went from a family of four to a family of seven. Despite his extreme fatigue, Mayhem’s superpower is staying calm, no matter the circumstance. After some convincing, the man realizes it’s just a case of mistaken identity, but he still plans to kill Mayhem, then his own wife and his wife’s lover, then himself. Mayhem doesn’t like that plan and doesn’t want any more deaths on his conscience, so once again he goes about talking him down. In typical Mayhem fashion, he saves the day, but not without a little destruction and someone bleeding from his head while trapped under a fallen bookshelf.

A few days after being abducted, Roger comes over to the house for some coffee. He looks terrible and is struggling to get over his breakup with his ex-girlfriend, Samantha. Roger planned to marry her, but it turns out that Samantha doesn’t like having people try to murder her, so she left Roger. Mayhem sees that Roger is in pain, but also knows there is little he can do to help. When Roger suggests they go on a vacation, Mayhem can only laugh it off. How can he possibly leave Helen alone with five kids, three of them newborns? Roger suggests there is a lot of money to be gained and all they need to do is help a YouTube explorer find a buried treasure deep within the Amazon Rainforest. Mayhem still doesn’t care. There is no way after everything he’s put his family through that he’d ever consider such a half-cocked adventure ever again. 

Obviously, they go on the trip, but not without some clear stipulations for their guide, Percival Longshore. After being paid nineteen thousand dollars each upfront, If at any point things start to go south, Mayhem and Roger get to walk away no questions asked. Plus, even if they can’t find the treasure, they are to be paid an additional ten thousand dollars each. They’ve matured over the years and are no longer willing to do life-threatening things for free. Percival agrees to the terms, and the game is afoot.

So, when they come up to the human corpse with its skin removed, Mayhem and Roger immediately request to turn back and head home. Percival ignores the request. When they approach a second corpse, Mayhem and Roger demand to go back. Once again, no dice. They proceed as planned down the river. Then, as expected, all hell breaks loose.

Will this adventure be too much for Mayhem and Roger to survive?

This book highlights Jeff Strand’s growth as a writer. The first book in the series was written almost seventeen years ago and Strand has improved tremendously during that time. Roger and Mayhem are not the same guys from the first few books. They are much more caring, resourceful, and more intelligent—which may be hard to believe since they did agree to go on a dangerous adventure with a complete stranger, but read the book and you’ll see for yourself: good choices were made. What hasn’t changed is Strand’s sharp dialogue, shockingly reasonable solutions to impossible situations, and the ability to tell a great story with ease. Once again, Jeff Stand creates the perfect balance of horror and comedy. Given the stressful times we are living in, I can’t think of a better escape than a few hours with Andrew Mayhem. So, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a copy of Cemetery Closing (Everything Must Go) today!

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