14. The Show Must Go Wrong - book 4 in the Jake Russo series
by Phil Edwards
Kindle book, 10
In this installment of the Jake Russo series, Jake is in New York City. This is where he was working as a newspaper reporter before the first book in the series. In that book, and in the ones that followed, we only met his editor Thompson via phone calls. Jake used to weigh a lot more than he does now, and used to eat a lot more junk food. Just about every time that editor has been in touch, he makes some kind of crack about Jake's weight or food choices. No matter how often Jake tells him of his new self, the editor does not believe him. He is a most irritating figure to me, and I cringe whenever Jake must deal with him. We all know people with a critical parent, and this man is that kind of person in Jake's life. And so, when Jake is ordered back to NYC to do a reporting job there, I knew he would be walking into an uncomfortable situation.
Jake doesn't confront his boss. Instead, he is like the adult child coming home to that critical parent. He buckles under the mean scrutiny. I wanted him to yell out and say 'stop it.' 'I've lost the weight, I don't eat doughnuts anymore. Get off my case.' But he doesn't. He doesn't stand up for himself. He's in his old familiar surroundings, without Melissa, his girlfriend who is supportive and encouraging. He's like a little boy. I have a picture in my mind of his shoulders slumped and head slightly bowed down under all this verbal abuse.
When Thompson first sees Jake, he says he doesn't believe it.
"You…you were telling the truth. You really did lose all that weight." …But Thompson now finds other ways to taunt Jake.
Jake felt the nerves loosen. The teasing he'd suffered for years - it was finally over. No more fat jokes. No more criticism. No more abuse.
"Now Russo, I'm going to put a sugar in my coffee. I hope a health nut like…like you doesn't mind."The boss also gets under his skin in another way. Years ago Jake was obsessed with graphic novels.
"Sir, I'm not a health nut."
"Ha! You're right. Nuts are too fatty! A health freak like you would hate that."
"I spent hours reading them and writing about them online. … I spent all day and all night obsessed with them. I didn't have a life. They're the reason I put on the weight. … I was a high-ranking officer in the fan club. I went to three conventions a year and was an editor of the newsletter. I even owned a replica costume for the main character."Jake is afraid that his new assignment, which is to report on a graphic novel being made into a play, will cause him to backslide, to fall into his old ways.
Of course there is soon a murder at play rehearsal, and Jake and his food-blogger/photographer friend Gary are on the spot and begin investigations of their own.
This fourth book was more serious in a way because of Jake's fears, the meanness of his boss, and the distance from his life with Melissa which offers security and strength to him. I wondered if he would succumb to the old temptations.
I love the series and the characters, and look forward to the next one. Maybe Jake will get a new job!