Posted by Literary Titan
What Happened to Joe French? is a novella written by Hector Rodriguez that follows the winding story of Joe French, a man who lives his life by impersonating, lying, stealing, and creating cons at every turn. The text opens with the mention of a puzzle hidden in the pages of the story, with a prize of 33 gold ingots. After that attention grabber, the story begins with a young man named Daniel describing his limited experiences with Joe, an older man that Daniel would often see at the family bar. When Daniel receives a package years later with 33 gold ingots and a letter from Joe, Daniel does his best to narrate how Joe came to receive the package and where Joe is hiding now. After this information is set, the story follows Joe from a third person view and plays through his story, most of which occurred in the US military. You’ll have to read to the end if you want to know how Joe scrapes his way through situations and problems of his own creation.
What Happened to Joe French? is entertaining in it’s unique ability to create curious, compelling and sometimes amusing situations. Joe has many close encounters with famous people of the early 1960’s, which gives this novel some star power and Hollywood intrigue. He even spends a good amount of time convincing people that he is Otis Redding, which he uses to his advantage enough to make it into the Bud Billiken Parade in Chicago.
While I thought the story was entertaining and I enjoyed following Joe through his misadventures and his near escapes, I felt that Joe had no good motivation for what he was doing in the story. I didn’t feel like there was a potent reason for the lies and the thievery. There is a couple mentions of a lost chance at love, but it does not feel connected enough to the plot.
As for the puzzle that is hidden in the pages, I have to admit that, while I definitely located a few of them, I was not able to find all of them, and some I wasn’t even sure were clues. For example, there is a mention of “Coca-a-cola”, which has an added “a” in the middle. Is this a clue, or just a spelling error? There’s no way to know! It all just adds to the fun of the novel, which if I had to sum up this novel in one word it would be just that, fun.
Pages: 142 | ISBN: 1684701856