Mushrooms, mushroooms, psychedelic kicks, murderers and recently dead bodies sprouting a special breed of mushrooms; all of this and more unearthed by a little Asian man named Phuoc Goldberg. Phuoc, a young Long Island, NY financial whizz bang of sorts settles in Wilmington, DE and sets up a Debt Relief Negotiation business. Right, his livelihood is helping the unlucky behind the eight ball avoid financial collapse. His only criterion, despite what he says, is to pronounce (fook)and spell (P-h-u-o-c) his name right. Phuoc works hard at impressing his clients and friends that he is a pugnacious, hip swaggering money-management envoy. If a client does not have the required retainer upfront, Phuoc quickly works out a plan. Truth is, Phuoc himself is generally only a thousand or so dollars away from the rent-man’s wrath.
J. E. Fishman, the author of Cadaver Blues, adequately balances the human foibles of his protagonist and the people drawn to him with his soul forces, which makes Phuoc quite likeable. What Phuoc, the adopted son of Jewish parents, tries to portray is something a bit less than a blood sucking parasite capitalizing on unfair games title companies, furniture stores and the ilk use to constantly bleed the unfortunate. What Phuoc is, and though he would argue this rationale to doom’s day, is the opposite. He is an engaging, compassionate fighter for justice, though unlucky in his hair-raising schemes and with a mile-high ego. Phouc’s mismatch of characteristic threads is a strong dynamic that really drives the story. Phuoc is definitely multi-faceted, but whether his is multi-smart is the reader’s choice; the totality of his indulgences paints him as a self-destructive giant super sleuth. In so many instances when sun-bright brilliance shines on a sensible decision, dark clouds of questionable judgment covers it. And Phuoc is off on another spoke of his adventure, the next one generally more humorous and hair-raising than the one before. I followed Phuoc’s adventures as if in a dream, although a nightmarish one.
With ghastly illustrated dead bodies and a mushroom stink so illustrative that it stimulated by olfactory nerves, Fishman’s humor smoothed the raw edges of the story’s barbarism. Cadaver Blues, as good novels should, creates its own world. In that microcosm an atmosphere of high drama emerges in which the deeds of good folk, some with questionable motives, eventually trumps evil. In the mix death, drugs and attempted murder in its most vilest of forms comprises an unbelievable savagery. The spirit of this work is balanced in all its characters, the good, bad and neutral in a turn of plot that brings them together when all hell breaks loose.