By William Monahan
First Published: 2000
Review © 2009 by Stephen Roof
Genre: Modern Fiction, Comedy, Thriller
Light House by William Monahan is a comical thriller with some of the funniest scenes I’ve read. This novel is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud if you have any sense of humor at all. It’s a quick read that would be right near the top of the heap if books were rated for laughs per page.
The first few chapters of Light House don’t seem very promising. The writing starts off very hurried and awkward as Monahan seems to be rushing through the set-up as quickly as possible. He also throws in a smattering of highbrow vocabulary words which don’t quite fit as if he were working to make this light novel seem a bit weightier to get it into the literature category. On the other hand, this may be simply another aspect of the comedy.
In Light House, the protagonist, Tim Picasso, has been almost scrupulously honest his whole life. As a perhaps brilliant artist who also has the “problem” of being overly attractive, Tim finds himself thoroughly frustrated by the “establishment” as any great artist would. Then, through no fault of his own, he finds himself forced into the middle of a drug deal and somehow ends up with the loot, well over a million dollars. Tim knows that the drug lord, ironically named Jesus, will most likely be keen to get his money back so Tim sets a few false trails and heads to a New England B&B with a picturesque view of a lighthouse as a place to lie low.
Once Tim reaches the B&B, the novel settles down a bit, the writing gets much better, and the story comes alive. The B&B is owned by a couple consisting of a “want-to-be writer” and his unhappy wife who just wants an affair. The B&B also happens to be hosting a writers’ workshop which has attracted a few crackpots. More visitors arrive including a crazy journalist, and a prostitute specializing in S&M. Tim settles down to relax at the B&B but little does he know that Jesus is much closer on his tracks than he thinks. To add even more trouble, a serious “Nor’easter” storm is heading straight for the B&B.
The comedy of errors that ensues is done really well. The interactions between guests and circumstances lead to many bouts of absolute hilarity. I literally laughed out loud dozens of times. As an aside, when I read this book, I was on a plane and wouldn’t recommend that you follow in my footsteps unless you’re willing to suffer some sharp looks, especially during the movie.
Light House is a comedy that includes plenty of sex and violence without being too graphic. Even the S&M scenes are made quite comical. There is some very crude language and lots of drunkenness but in general this novel is appropriate for mature teens and up.Light House boasts a healthy mixture of literary humor, black humor, and most of all, plain old fashioned situation comedy. This novel is highly recommended for your health now that laughter has been proven to be so beneficial. For a really good laugh, or more accurately, a string of uproarious laughs, pick up Light House and enjoy!