Morbidly Beautiful

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Chad Lutke and John Boden play with our emotions, pull on our heartstrings, and deliver the thrills in the amazing story “The Bedmakers”.


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Let me start by saying this is one of the best stories I have read in a very long time!

Lutke and Boden have given us something original and so simple in a noir thriller that makes this novel breathtaking; no crazy twists, no over-the-top nonsense, just a straight-to-the-point plot that could have actually happened in a small town in 1979 where this story takes place.

Before we arrive at the small town where our protagonists settle, we embark on their adventure back in Chicago. Living life on the streets, these two old war veterans still have some life left in them (or so we think) and travel cross country, hopping a train and looking for work out West.

We quickly find out that life is ticking away for one of our close friends, as he is holding onto a secret that is eating him alive.

In The Bedmakers, we closely follow Genie, an old, tall black man in the 1970s who is struggling with the effects of World War 2 and suffering from PTSD.

Genie has also just learned he has cancer, and he keeps his diagnosis from his best friend, Cal, to avoid upsetting Cal and not ruin their hopes for finding work together in their next venture.

Although rough, the relationship between these two old friends has many heartfelt moments in this story, making you smile.

They feel like an old married couple in the most endearing way.

With the bickering and banter between the pair and the care they give to each other, their friendship is pushed to the limit when they witness a horrific crime on the train they have hopped on.

Here, the story takes a dark turn, as the two friends who have battled through the tough life on the streets of Chicago now must battle for their lives. Lutzke and Boden fill the following chapters with the kind of dark, horrifying, and anxiety-inducing writing that will keep you utterly gripped.

As intense as it is, it’s also wildly fun to read.

At a certain point early in the novel, as tensions were escalating and it felt like the story had reached the depths of its darkness, I worried this terror train might have run out of steam.

Surely, I thought, it can’t get any darker. I reasonably assumed the authors may have sprinted out of the gate too soon, throwing their best stuff at us too early and leaving the rest of the journey feeling sluggish and anticlimactic in comparison.

Happily, I can assure you those fears were unfounded.

In some ways, it’s a story that reminded me of Stephen King’s Stand By Me

“We’re always home, Cal . . . Home is where you lay your head, wherever you have a friend, and wherever the sun warms you.” 

There are similarities — wonderful ones — in how the book deals with themes of enduring friendship, overcoming life’s hardships, and facing heartbreak, all against a backdrop of crime and danger.

Given that Genie is a black man traveling through the American heartland in the 1970s, there are very realistic issues of racism that can be difficult to read. But the authors handle it all with care, providing readers with an extremely rich and rewarding narrative.

It is a virtually flawless, must-read story; there are only two possible downsides to this brilliant tale I can think of.

First, you will find yourself drinking loads of black coffee, as the pair drink a lot of it in the book, which triggers you to make one every time they do.

The second? I hated it to end and wanted a follow-up book immediately! Since finishing this read, I have been eager for me and feel lost without it. You’ve been warned!

I urge anyone who enjoys an old-school noir thriller full of mystery, love, anxiety, and heartbreak to read The Bedmakers.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 5

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