“Not all novelists are power-hungry madmen – some are power-hungry madwomen.”
So says the pseudonymous narrator of the novel The Name of this Book is Secretin one of his¹ understated moments of truth. These moments are the best snippets from the book, but he tries to hard; instead of a power-hungry madman, the narrator is merely desperate for approval – and as he tries so hard to be charming and clever, he slides further into annoyance.
Anyway, between narratarorial interruptions, two eleven-year-old misfits stumble across a mystery involving creepy, overly-perfect-looking adults and synesthesia. And the main character has gay grandpas! (Well, honorary grandpas.) They live together in an old firehouse which is now their antique store. This is pretty damn awesome. Another character is clearly more messed up by his parents staying together than he would be by them getting properly divorced and living apart. It’s actually fairly smart, masked by an overwhelming silliness. It’s an interesting combination, in which the intelligence sneaks up on you. The frequent narratorial interjections don’t help, but it’s still a very fun book.
¹ The back flap uses “he” to refer to the unnamed author, so I’m following that in my use of the male pronoun.