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Monday, November 18, 2013

Badger Lake by Aaron Shaffer

Badger LakeBadger Lake by Aaron Shaffer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Badger Lake by Aaron Shaffer at Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

Badger Lake is a very small town in Wisconsin. It has one television station and one radio station. The television station, KBGR, has a large turnover rate for some of its positions partly because of low salaries, but also because any of the talent passing through is really looking for a job with a much larger audience in a much bigger city. Those who want to become anchors at bigger and better stations use places like Badger Lake's KBGR as a stepping stone to fame and fortune. Unfortunately it doesn't always work out that way for everyone. Jed Stevens, for example, wants to leave his anchor job with KBGR, but he can't seem to put together the right tape of his anchor efforts to send off to the major networks. Because of an email message Jed received from a viewer, he believes his luck is about to change.

Fourteen Senators are missing from the capital, and their votes on controversial issues are needed for the Governor to get his agenda pushed through the Congress. The Senators have been dubbed "The Wisconsin Fourteen", and Jed believes he may have gotten a clip of them while they were shopping in a local convenience store. All fourteen men were wearing suits and false mustaches, but Jed is pretty certain he has correctly identified them as Governor Runner's missing Senators. They have been missing for 78 days, and all the state troopers are supposed to be out looking for them to the exclusion of any other law enforcement duties.

Unfortunately for Jed, another event is about to steal his thunder in reporting. For the first time in years, a murder has been committed at Badger Lake. Sheriff Lee who, because of state wide budget cuts, is the only law enforcement officer in town, and he is known to be the most incompetent officer on the force before he became Sheriff, received a tip about someone dumping a body in the area around Badger Lake. While he's searching for the body, Walt Johnson, a news reporter from KBGR, drives by and decides to help look for the body since this could turn into a big news story. He calls his photographer, Stuart, to meet him and help search for the body as well as take any pictures that might help with the new story.

The story moves on from there to include more of the staff at KBGR as well as other local inhabitants of the town, including a woman who only speaks in run-on sentences, the youngest intern ever to work at KBGR who likes to be addressed as "Captain", a cross-dressing General Manager who resembles Farrah Fawcett when he's in drag, twin co-directors who confuse everyone since no one can tell them apart, a producer who speaks as though everything he says should be written down for posterity even though most of the time no one understands what he's talking about, and a Meteorologist named Gut Summers who only has 4 months left on his contract with KBGR and is anal retentive, a couple who want to appear much wealthier than what they are only there's no place in this town where they can show off, even when they hire a part-time butler. This book is full of characters who all have idiosyncrasies that are hilarious. Shaffer has done a very good job of making each individual character stand out, so there is never any confusion about who is doing what or to whom. And it isn't just the people who keep this story moving along; there's also a Mama black bear and a disgruntled badger to keep things even more interesting.

Badger Lake is one of the funniest books I've enjoyed in a while. If I had to compare it to another book or show, it would be Carl Hiaasen and Larry David collaborating and coming up with a story that shouldn't make any sense at all, but it seems perfectly logical and reasonable while reading it. I will miss the characters Shaffer invented for this book, and I'd love it if there were a sequel or a series. I will definitely be on the lookout for anything else Aaron Shaffer writes. He's definitely a talent to follow.

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