THE ARMAGEDDON TWO-STEP
Michael Loyd Gray
Red Bat Books (2019)
Reviewed by Jeffrey W. Massey for Reader Views (02/2020)
The latest novel by Michael Loyd Gray, entitled “The Armageddon Two-Step,” tells the story of Shelby Albert Goddard, a young man that rose from the ranks of a nondescript, nerdy high school kid that ran the “low hurdles,” to a young man employed by a secret government agency due to the fact he was “quite brilliant in sciences that he could not explain to his parents or anyone else.”
On April 1, 2013, while working for this secret agency, Shelby’s life is changed forever when he saves the world “in a blinding flash of presence of mind.” That’s right, Shelby saved the entire damn world and although he is not exactly sure how he saved the world or why, the reader learns that it involved “thingamabobs, thingamajigs and doohickeys” that are not to be discussed specifically with any living human being.
While Shelby is not sure how he saved the world, the fact that he accomplished the deed is clearly on display. The US government forked over a boatload of cash and had his likeness chiseled onto Mount Rushmore. Russia sent a lifetime supply of vodka, South Africa sent diamonds and Switzerland sent a ton of cheese and a banking representative. On the civilian level, Keith Richards invited Shelby over for guitar lessons and a few tokes from his personal stash. A Nevada brothel presented him with a lifetime pass and Taco Bell did the same for ten cent tacos. How could things get better? Oh yeah, Shelby is also exempt from paying income taxes. Wouldn’t it be great to be Shelby Albert Goddard? Maybe, maybe not?
What does one do to follow up an act like saving the world? That is the story that Michael Loyd Gray spins; a wild ride of satire inspired drama that would make Tom Robbins smile and Hunter S. Thompson choke on his cigarette case while consumed with laughter. A man saves the world on April Fool’s Day and is then made exempt from paying taxes. We aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto!
Other than setting up the journey, little more can be divulged because the “what’s next” quality of the story is hook that keeps the reader turning the page. There would be no harm in saying that the cast of characters Shelby interacts with is very reflective of modern America, a place where people seem in constant need of attention and share an unhealthy fascination with the trivial as commercialism paves the way.
“The Armageddon Two-Step” is a wonderful story for the reader with a taste for dry humor and in need of some comedic relief. If you are looking for cookie-cutter story lines and mainstream romance this might not be the book for you.
If you are, as I am, a fan of Michael Loyd Gray’s work, you will see “The Armageddon Two-Step” feeding the author’s need to be original. Gray is a genuine artist who uses the written work as his paint and canvas. This book may not be as ambitious as “The Canary,” but it throws a heavy punch if you are willing to look between the lines. For instance, it seemed only appropriate that Shelby chooses to read Joseph Heller’s novel “Catch 22” during the story.
In summary, I found “The Armageddon Two-Step” by Michael Loyd Gray quite entertaining. A solid read. I would say more but I might give something away.