The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man
Ruddick (Ruddy) McCann is a fallen football star, a disappointment to his family --- all except for maybe his little sister, who he thinks of as his big sister --- and actually not really crazy about himself. He sort of believes he deserves the lousy life he’s fashioned for himself. Living in a small loser of a town in Michigan, he’s eking out a living towing off bank repos from deadbeats who have discovered they bit off more than they could chew when they bought that fancy sports car. Unsurprisingly, the repo man has to get creative in his recovery tactics, since people who possess cars they’ve stopped paying for tend to be less than cooperative about giving them back. But Ruddy makes enough to squeak by and even help his sister keep the Black Bear Bar --- inherited from mom and dad --- above water from month to month. Just barely.
Now, if things don’t sound bleak enough for Ruddy already, he has started hearing voices in his head. Excuse me, make that just one voice. And that voice has a name: Alan Lottner. Mr. Lottner claims to have been a murder victim, and now he wants Ruddy to find out who killed him and bring them to justice.Well, doesn’t that just top everything? What unfolds from this unlikely scenario (I know, that's an understatement of the large kind) is nothing short of hysterical, but against all odds, it doesn’t come off as silly.
"Ruddick McCann is as witty a narrator as I’ve encountered in a long time. Self-effacing, a bit cranky yet tolerant in surprising areas, wise yet immensely foolish at times, he’s about the most fun voice to have in your head as a reader that you can imagine."
But here comes the monkey wrench: Ruddy has finally met a woman who sparks his interest in a huge way. Katie is just about the prettiest thing he’s seen in a long while, smart too, and seems to think he’s not all that bad. It has been a long time since anything like this has happened, and Ruddy is more than ready. There are a few hitches, though. First of all, Ruddy isn’t convinced he’s really in Katie’s league. Secondly, she is currently seeing someone. And --- the kicker --- he learns that her last name is Lottner, as in Alan Lottner’s daughter.
You will come to realize that Ruddy has a good heart, but not always the best judgment. He knows who murdered Alan, because Alan saw their faces before they killed him and, well, he’s talking to Ruddy. Boy, is he talking to Ruddy; constantly, in fact, much to Ruddy’s irritation, which means he would like nothing more than to attain justice for Alan in hopes that Alan will leave and he can be alone inside his head once again. That’s how the sheriff gets involved. That’s how the authorities find the body after all this time. And that’s why they start wondering how Ruddy knew where it was. You see, Ruddy didn’t really think his whole plan through before he decided to talk to the sheriff, so now his life, well, is a little worse than ever.
While it may be hard to imagine how there can possibly be a happy ending for Ruddy with all this piling up on him, the denouement is more than a little bit terrific. The repo man faces every personal problem with the same guile he employs when towing off delinquent vehicles, bulling his way in and shoving his way back out. There’s simply no hesitating, no second guessing himself; just get in and get it done. He wants that justice for Alan almost more than he wants a shot at winning the heart of Katie. Almost. Besides, he has become quite fond of Alan. I guess when you share the same space for long enough….
Ruddick McCann is as witty a narrator as I’ve encountered in a long time. Self-effacing, a bit cranky yet tolerant in surprising areas, wise yet immensely foolish at times, he’s about the most fun voice to have in your head as a reader that you can imagine. The even better news is that author W. Bruce Cameron has promised a sequel to THE MIDNIGHT PLAN OF THE REPO MAN. You have to read this one so you’ll be ready for it. Trust me, you won’t be sorry. It’s high entertainment.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on October 31, 2014