This review appears in the latest issue of Crime Factory magazine–the excellent Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! by Douglas Lindsay. Enjoy, coffee drinkers and Beatles lovers!
Before Douglas Lindsay’s Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! descends into nightmare, the narrative hints at a story about the ho-hum life: the humorous musings of a middle-aged man resigned to a tired marriage, an uninspired job, and a sense that the only bright spot on his horizon is his intelligent daughter, Baggins. But the ennui is transformed by a surprise phone call from James Kite’s literary agent. A Hollywood mogul wants to produce his screenplay, The Jigsaw Man, which had languished for years on slush piles around the world.
That should resonate with anyone who’s sent their manuscripts off to editors, only to have the pages disappear without a trace. For Kite, however, the revival of his script—“exactly the type of straight-to-TV, martial arts bunfight that would be turned into a Steven Segal movie and shown in the late hours on Channel 5”, as he describes it—is received with disbelief and doubt rather than hope or joy. It can’t be real. As his wife Brin says: “It’s from Hollywood. Of course it’s fake.”
And so much of what follows can’t be real, either. Kite vanishes from a plane bound for Hollywood. The narrative next has him trapped in a dull grey cell inside a secretive American institution. He has no recollection or understanding of how he got there, let alone where there is. All he knows is that two humorless American agents, Crosskill and No-Name, want to know how he got off the plane, and the whereabouts of the Jigsaw Man. Queue Kite’s confusion—do they want the man or the script inspired by the man?—in the face of these humorless, stone-faced manifestations of bureaucracy.