The Odd Twins
by Randy Caparco
BookVenture Publishing

"She often took to feeding the animals in a kind fashion and then would suddenly and unexpectedly grab a chicken by the neck and say, 'Daddy, I want this one for dinner.'"

Some books do not fit snugly into one genre or another. A mystery can simultaneously be a tale of horror. A family saga is occasionally both melodrama and historical fiction. A tale of suspense sometimes morphs into surrealism. If one is forced to categorize Randy Caparco’s novel, The Odd Twins, its genre might best be defined as strangely indefinable.

The story is set in Italy near the end of World War II. The principal participants are the members of the Gaetano family. They have a small farm and share their acreage with horses, chickens, sheep, and pigs—many of which they seem to be constantly slaughtering for one meal or another. Carpaco begins his tale with the prolonged and exceedingly agonizing labor of Maria Gaetano. Already the mother of two young children, she is once again experiencing the excruciating pain of childbirth. The author deftly pulls you into not only her ordeal but also the plight of her husband, Ricardo, who is forced to wait helplessly as a midwife administers to his spouse. All are particularly surprised when one child follows another from Maria’s womb, and twin boys make their way into the world. The fact that there are decidedly different aspects to the newborns sets the stage for a mystery that will ultimately unfold.

As the narrative continues, Carpaco introduces readers to various members of the Gaetano clan who play key roles throughout. There are Ricardo’s hard-drinking father and long-suffering mother who have taught their children the harsh ways of the farm and the slaughterhouse. Ricardo’s brother, Domenik, is a prizefighter with a secret he dares not share with anyone. Maria’s brother, Joey, is a kind soul who will not be treated kindly by fate. Carmine and Cristina are the young children of Ricardo and Maria, and, of course, there are the newborn twins themselves, Arturo and Damian.

To reveal too much of the plot would be to spoil a story that unravels with one surprise after another. Suffice to say that this brooding tale moves from gothic romance to murder mystery to police procedural to medical thriller to horror yarn. Along the way, readers are treated to love, lust, delight, despair, graphic violence, and even an all-consuming Sam Peckinpah-like gun battle.

Carpaco writes with a visceral intensity that takes no prisoners when covering subjects such as the everyday butchery of farm animals or the natural workings of the human body. He does an exceptional job of bringing to life the various characters that populate his pages with all too human foibles. While his writing is vigorous and often compelling, his tenses continually clash, frequently impeding pace. But his story is intriguing enough to keep readers moving to the very end. The author even lets readers know that the finish of the novel is not necessarily the finish of the story. In a concluding segment, he addresses questions that might still be rummaging around in readers’ minds. Posing queries and hinting at answers, he finally wraps up by promising more to come in The Odd Twins Two. If you like stories that are not easily definable, you just might want to keep watch for the second installment as well as the first.

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