Humor and action mark Cedar Rapids author's debut novel

Scrawny, with a terminal case of goofy humor, Noah and Lee are the unlikely heroes of “Friends Dogs Bullets Lovers” (CreateSpace, 285 pages, $11.99), the first novel by Lennox Randon of Cedar Rapids.

Noah and Lee are working in Dubuque, where Noah is a police sergeant and Lee an EMT, when they stumble across two hit men burying a body in an Iowa state park. They capture the bad guys but have to give up their jobs and identities and move to Austin, Texas, in the federal Witness Protection Program.

We learn a lot about the two in their effort to reinvent themselves and be “good guys,” armed only with good intentions and a gun or two. Noah, it can be said, is a trouble magnet.

Throughout their adventures, Noah, Lee and their beautiful, wisecracking U.S. marshal caretaker keep the patter and the puns coming — think Pee-wee Herman meets Robert Mitchum. Just reading the many ways the U.S. marshal mistakes Iowa for Idaho, Ohio, etc., is worth the read. The intermittent discussion of jazz and music, too, is fun (and educational).

One of my favorite parts of the book is the serious discussion Noah has about religion with his new girlfriend. She’s religious, he’s not. Both sides get a fair hearing.

Randon, who has terminal cancer, said he wanted to include points in this book that he wanted his teenage daughter to know about him.

“Because of the cancer, I’m going to say some things,” Randon said in a recent interview. “If people don’t like them, well, I’m not going to have to hear about them for too long.”

The dialogue in Randon’s novel, from start to finish, is strong, clever and rhythmic, gradually revealing of the characters. The action is fast-paced and imaginative, carrying the plot right along to a dramatic showdown in a junkyard.The book is fun, with just enough serious points tucked in to make this a very satisfying read.

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