Book Review: Ray Zacek’s “The Taxman Cometh”

As I’ve told many people who have offered to send me books to review, I’m a desultory reviewer.  The spirit really has to move me for me to write a book review.  I’m always happy to receive free books, but I do think the authors or publishers or publicity agents ought to know that I don’t guarantee to write a review.

I think this vaguely procrastinatory feeling I have about writing book reviews goes back to junior high and high school, when I read books I usually disliked and was then forced to write 750 words about them.  That was bad enough, but I was always miffed when the teacher later graded my opinion.

The end result is that, if I love a book, I’ll definitely rouse myself to write a review, while if a book offends me deeply either morally or politically I might be moved to write a negative review.

As for books in the great middle — eh, it’s hit or miss.  If someone was kind enough to send me a freebie or I know the author, I’ll write a review only if I really liked the book.  If I didn’t like it, I just don’t mention it at all.

With those confessions out in the open, let me say that I really liked Ray Zacek’s The Taxman Cometh(which I bought myself, rather than receiving a review copy).  Here’s the review I posted at Amazon:

I found this black comedy a peculiarly mesmerizing little book. Usually, within a chapter or two, I can predict a book’s outcome. On those rare occasions when I can’t predict the outcome, I’m often peeved because the author “cheated” by blatantly betraying his own plot trajectory and going somewhere stupid.

Zacek’s book, however, is a marvelous little gem. Every time it takes off in a wonderful, often macabre direction, Zacek deftly reveals an appropriate new fact, or explains a preexisting one, creating a seamless little book that’s full of surprises.

Because the book is short (novella length) and because it has so many unexpected twists & turns, while still maintaining overall narrative coherence, I don’t want to spoil any surprises by saying “It was great when THIS happened,” or “The scene with THAT event was side-splitting.”

It’s enough, therefore, for me to say that Zacek is a superb writer. He’s managed to take an IRS agent and turn him and the ghost that haunts him into worthwhile literary protagonists.

As an added pleasure, I really appreciated that Zacek is an excellent grammarian and that he (or his editor) carefully proofread the book before publishing it. Too many Kindle books have imaginative plots and interesting characters, but are impossible to read because they don’t quite cross the literacy threshold. Zacek doesn’t have that problem.

If you’d like a few enjoyable hours with a good book, I highly recommend “The Taxman Cometh.”