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Heads You Lose Hardcover – April 5, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this experimental California improv, Lutz (The Spellman Files) writes odd-numbered chapters and footnoted barbs directed at her coauthor and ex-boyfriend, poet Hayward, whose even-numbered chapters and stiletto-sharp ripostes add a freaky dimension to the collaboration. Grown siblings Lacey and Paul Hansen are scratching out a precarious living from a Northern California clandestine marijuana operation when a reeking headless human body turns up in their backyard, eventually identified as Hart Drexel, detecting barista Lacey's former lover. Because Lutz and Hayward agreed not to discuss or to undo a plot development the other had produced, they create a jittery black-comic narrative complicated by inter-author tensions unveiled in memos exchanged at the end of each chapter. Shifty secondary characters, some charming, some odious, pop in and out of the resulting dizzying plot that comes off like a trendy Left Coast restaurant mélange—daringly composed, exotic to contemplate. Author tour. (Apr.)
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About the Author

Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of the Spellman comedic crime novels. Since 2007, the Spellman series has received Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity nominations, and each title has been a selection of the Indie Next List. Lutz lives in San Francisco.

David Hayward is a writer and editor in Northern California. His poetry has won a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Harper's and other magazines. Hayward has an MFA in poetry from the University of California, Irvine. This is his first novel.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399157409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399157400
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #885,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of The Spellman Files, Curse of the Spellmans, Revenge of the Spellmans, The Spellmans Strike Again, Trail of the Spellmans and Heads you Lose (with David Hayward). Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Although she attended UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, the University of Leeds in England, and San Francisco State University, she still does not have a bachelor's degree. Lisa spent most of the 1990s hopping through a string of low-paying odd jobs while writing and rewriting the screenplay Plan B, a mob comedy. After the film was made in 2000, she vowed she would never write another screenplay. How to Negotiate Everything a children's book (illustrated by Jaime Temairik) will be released in 2013 along with The Last Word, the sixth installment in the Spellman series. Lisa lives in a town you've never heard of in upstate New York.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer VINE VOICE on April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
About The Book, Part 1

This book is about Paul and Lacey Hansen, pot-dealing sibling orphans in their 20s who are barely making a living in the rural Northern California town of Mercer. When a headless body shows up on their front lawn, they decide to deal with the problem themselves. After all, why invite law enforcement into your home when you're growing illegal plants in the basement? Of course, when the corpse reappears a few days later, they realize that maybe they can't make the problem disappear quite so easily. Yet neither one shies away from a little amateur sleuthing.

About The Book, Part 2

This book is about when Lisa Lutz (author of the comedic Spellman crime series) and her ex-romantic partner David Hayward (poet ... who was published in Harper's once) write a book together--alternating the writing of chapters. The initial discussion about the "ground rules" and the between chapter commentary (as well as the reading author's footnotes on chapters) are all included for our reading pleasure. For me, the interchange between the authors was the best part the book. I never grew tired of hearing Lisa and David settle past scores, argue over plot points and exact revenge for artistic decisions made in previous chapters. From Lisa's repeated "assassinations" of David's most loved characters to the ongoing refusal of both authors to deal with the mysterious plane crash that takes place early on in the book, I was rolling in laughter at the interchange between the two authors and could not wait to find out what each chapter would bring and how each would deal with the various plot points they threw at each other.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Ollivier TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I often recommend Lisa Lutz's The Spellmans series to readers who have finished the Stephanie Plum books and are looking for another light hearted fun mystery series.

Heads You Lose is a stand alone book and is a collaboration with David Hayward....who just happens to be Lisa's ex-boyfriend. And it is this connection that makes this book so much fun to read.

So, in the novel, we meet brother and sister Lacey and Paul. They're twenty somethings living in a small town in California. They also grow pot for a living. When a headless corpse appears on their property, chances are it could be work related. But, the ideal thing seems to be to move the body elsewhere to be found given their profession. When the body appears yet again in the front yard, Lacey recognizes it this time as her ex-fiancee. Lacey decides to give the sheriff a hand solving the case...with Paul's help of course.

Lisa writes the first chapter and subsequent odd numbered chapters; David does the even numbered. Emails between the co authors preface each chapter and barbed footnotes abound. The subtle sniping between the two is hilarious. Each chapter takes a new direction as characters are added and killed off. (and brought back!) Clues abound as each author tries to steer the direction the book should take by adding their own twists.

"Another idiotic duck reference was all Lacey had to show for her visit with Marybeth Monroe. It was if some outside element were at work, temporarily putting the brakes on her investigation."
The town is populated by wildly quirky characters, seemingly random clues and red herrings galore - a source of contention between Lisa and David as the outcome is not pre determined.

Heads You Lose was such an entertaining, laugh out loud read. I hope the two authors can put their differences aside and collaborate again. No wait....it works much better for us if they don't get along!
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Format: Hardcover
Lisa Lutz is the successful author of the humorous Spellman crime stories. In this novel, she has co-authored with David Howard, a poet and Lisa's former boyfriend. Lisa and David write alternate chapters in this zany novel and between chapters, they debate the merits of the prior chapter and the plot possibilities for the upcoming chapter. It is a wonderful device that gives the reader insight into the writer's thoughts and considerations.

How would someone react if they found a decapitated body on their front lawn but couldn't report it to the police because they had a field of pot growing behind their house and it was sure to be discovered?

Paul and Lacey Hansen are in their mid-twenties. They live in their parents' home after their parents died during a vacation. With college debts and a bleak job market, they began growing pot and selling it to discriminating markets, i.e. a woman with chronic pain, and patients and staff of an assisted living home.

Lacey is the more curious of the two. As this part of the action was taking place, I pictured the movie, "A Weekend at Bernie's." Paul and Lacey bundle up the headless body and dump it at a hiking path at a nearby rest stop.

After this is done, they expect someone to notice the body but not long after getting rid of the troublesome body, Lacey is startled when she finds it on her front yard again. This time she recognizes a tattoo as that of her old boyfriend Hart Drexel.

The story takes many turns and twists as Lacey and Paul try to solve the crime themselves. Lacey is reminiscent of Janet Evanovich's wonderful character Stephanie Plum, trying to solve a crime without a clue about what she should do.
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