by Chris Belden
"Somewhere in this world was a writer named Shriver who was expected at this conference, but it was not him. What should he do? He'd committed to attending, and had even been sent what looked like genuine airline tickets. He checked the date on the itinerary---just three days away!" ((p 7)
What would it be like to be mistaken for someone famous? This novel explores that situation with the added attraction that the famous person is a reclusive writer (think of Salinger) and the person who is the subject of the mistake is also an author who, fortunately or not, has nothing in common with the reclusive celebrity other than his name. The unfortunate protagonist is invited to writers' conference and, against his better judgment, decides to attend. He appears to be succeeding in his unlikely impersonation, but just as things start to calm down he becomes involved in unexpected and certainly unintended episodes. First, one of the other guest authors disappears, and he becomes the central subject of the investigation; second, a journalist begins to take an interest in him that makes him very uncomfortable; and third, to complicate his life further he begins to fall in love with the conference organizer.
With the addition of some other quirky characters including a stalker, the story is complex enough to provide the reader with entertainment and mirth. While it is fairly lightweight, the spirited narrative has all the best characteristics of an off-beat romantic comedy and contains just enough whimsy to keep the reader focused through to the end.