Author Robert Rodi has been publishing novels since I worked in Barnes & Noble back in the 90s. I loved his comic, campy books like Closet Case, Fag Hag, and Kept Boy. So I was psyched when I found out he wrote a couple of books inspired by Alfred Hitchcock. I was even more excited to find out upon reading them that even though these are page-turning suspense and thriller novels, Rodi hasn’t lost his sense of humor.
The Bad Seed. The Good Son. Orphan. And now…BABY! Indeed, this is Robert Rodi’s novel of a three-month old baby that seems to be offing people. Or is it just the paranoia a gay guy feels when he moves in with his single sister and finds out he has to help raise her newborn monster?
That’s pretty much the premise of Baby. Marcus is down on his luck and his sister is more than willing to let him live with her rent-free. Yet Marcus still comes across as completely ungrateful and complains about everything, which creates some of the most comical moments in the book.
Then his sister has a baby…that she names Baby. From the moment Marcus sees the baby popping out of his sister, he senses that Baby is evil. But Baby grows completely attached to Marcus. And it seems to Marcus that anyone who tries to get close to him suffers the consequences of Baby’s jealous wrath.
Once Marcus finds a book on the occult hidden in his sister’s apartment, even we as the reader start to believe something is very wrong with Baby and it’s not all in Marcus’s imagination.
I love this little slice of baby horror.
THE SUGARMAN BOOTLEGS
The Sugarman Bootlegs is a much more complex novel than Baby, with less of Rodi’s snarky humor and much more mystery. You really never know where the plot is going in this one, and you don’t particularly sympathize with anyone in the book because all the characters are self-involved opportunists.
After inheriting a house on Fire Island from his deceased gay uncle, Paul brings his lady and her gay friend Clifton to clean the place so he can sell it. When Paul finds an old Betamax machine and some videotapes in his uncle’s closet, the first video he watches starts with a gay orgy. There’s no telling what’s going to be on these tapes. A snuff film, perhaps?
Clifton joins Paul in the viewing because he wants to see the sex tapes. They soon find that also on the tapes is footage of an amazing, unknown female singer performing about 40 years before. They make up a whole identity for her as Lola Sugarman, a woman made famous by singing in the gay bathhouses in the 70s and 80s.
Paul and Clifton never expect the imaginary singer to become an Internet sensation. As Lola Sugarman’s legacy begins to grow into some sort of alternate pop culture reality, someone comes on the scene claiming to be the real Lola Sugarman! That’s when things start getting really weird. Lies, deceit, manipulation, and murder. Not to mention what seems to be the ghost of the actual woman on those videotapes….
The Sugarman Bootlegs keeps you guessing as you get sucked in, but it’s not until closer to the end of the novel that all the murder and mayhem kicks in and the real whodunit begins, with one unexpected twist after another.
Baby and The Sugarman Bootlegs weren’t enough! I love Robert Rodi doing suspense and thrillers with a hint of horror. I hope he has plans to do more.