Two bankrupt card players, lured by black magic and a casino-chip counterfeiting scam, get lost within the folds of a world no longer true. Faulty Bones follows the journey of Mike and Amy--a couple of restless drifters who misdirect their anchors to the shifty part of town. Can they overcome her gambling addiction and his tenuous grasp of reality to find their way back on the grid? A pair of scheming mobsters, a demonic con man, and a series of ripples in the sands of time won't make the going easy.
A couple of love-struck gamblers navigate mobsters and an unstable timeline in Fraser’s surreal debut fantasy romance.
In the opening chapters of this novel, card players Mike and Amy meet cute at a New Orleans poker table. And then they meet cute for the first time again. The reason: Mike keeps waking up in amnesiac hazes, and each time, he pieces together evidence that his personal chronology has been undone by supernatural forces. He repeatedly hustles to right his timeline, reunite with Amy, and maybe get to the World Series of Poker. Meanwhile, 20-something Amy, a compulsive gambler who “eloped with [her] mom’s chiropractor” at 16 and who’s now 11 months into a streak of bad luck, is embroiled in a scheme to launder counterfeit poker chips for the Russian mob. Mike and Amy’s world of seedy casinos and poker players is rendered with many persuasive details, such as Mike’s knowing assessment of other players, “the type who cut their teeth on the Internet in fast, multi-table action, playing six, ten, twelve tables at a time like chess masters.” As a result, the tension that Fraser builds in the betting scenes will be accessible even to poker neophytes. As Mike and Amy’s parallel plots unfold, they alternate first-person points of view; both are engaging, but there are times when the shared tics of their voices blend together (both use the term “the girlfriend experience,” for example). The author’s droll humor comes through in the lovers’ observations about their bad luck and in the mundane pettiness of the magical beings manipulating them. (One of those beings complains about the matchmaking spirits’ union: “The grievance-filing process takes forever. Even if we win, the inevitable appeal ties us into knots for ages.”) The combination of time travel and the couple’s playful game of changing their names every day somewhat muddles the narrative, and there’s a late-breaking political subplot that becomes extremely unwieldy. However, the affecting depiction of Amy’s struggle to right her life, along with the complex plot, give the novel depth and excitement.
A tale of destined love that successfully weds the charms of fantasy worldbuilding and shaggy dog stories.
Faulty Bones is a fantasy romance novel where love-struck gamblers navigate between mobsters and a supernatural force in a battle to get their worlds back on track. It is the first book published by Joe Fraser, president of Russ Darrow Leasing.
From the first 2,000 books sold, Fraser has pledged double his royalties to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.
The novel’s hero and heroine are both homeless, a plight that Fraser feels is not understood by the vast majority of people.
“The story begins and ends with a spotlight on homelessness,” Fraser said. “There are over half a million homeless in this country and about 1.5 million people who have used a shelter at some point in their lives. It is my belief that rather than rely on government bureaucracies to help the disenfranchised, those who have should take it upon themselves to help those who haven’t. Here’s an opportunity for 2,000 people to invest in this cause with me.”
While Faulty Bones calls attention to the homeless, Fraser promises an entertaining rollercoaster ride of a story with a blend of humor, fantasy, and romance.
The plot introduces readers to a local card player named Mike, who had been living on the edge, to the point where he has clearly fallen off. Tumbling backward through time, he encounters a chain-smoking metaphysical tour guide at every turn. Amy is living in an ordinary world, one with no hint of the supernatural other than the inner demons fueling her gambling addiction and reckless lifestyle. She falls hard for Mike, oblivious to his predicament, and he falls for Amy, desperate to claw himself forward in time to help resolve personal turmoil.
Fraser has been writing as a hobby for the past 10 years and is a member of the Romance Writers of America.
“I’m a businessman by day and writer by night, always striving to keep my analytic and creative sides in perfect harmony,” he said.
This is his first published novel, but two others, The Witch of the Hills and The Multitude will be released later in 2017. All three novels, dubbed the Gabriella Trilogy for a reappearing character, contain an element of the supernatural.
Faulty Bones has already obtained a favorable rating from Kirkus Reviews, an established book review publication, which stated: “The affecting depiction of the heroine’s struggle to right her life, along with the complex plot, give the novel depth and excitement.”