Lights, Camera, Indiot

If I had to fit Ana Spoke’s series Isa Maxwell Escapade into one category, it would be “the most likely to become a TV-series on ABC.”

Overtly dotty protagonist Isa Maxwell is actually not so dotty at all. She is courageous and witty and self-depreciating, but also uncannily perceptive in her reflections upon the craziness that is her life.

And there’s craziness, all right. Isa’s life delivers adventure in heaps.

Author Ana Spoke’s plot-weaving skills and storytelling pace are worthy of James Patterson: there are guns, chases, bombs, deceit, the crooked police and plenty of intrigue and danger. But what gives the series real depth beyond a simple page-turner (not that there’s anything wrong with a simple page-turner) is its almost parodic quality: there are car radios masking as bombs; the chase down the streets of India is slowed down by the workhorse junkers; the bad guys who are in cohorts with the police are scared off by simple household items and Isa’s amateurish trickery. (Isa is not sure if it’s going to work, and is just as surprised as the bad guys when it does.)

The outline of the plot is strong enough to hold attention of an average thrill-seeker. It is a strong adventure story. And that alone would be enough to recommend the book. But that’s not all it is. What separates Ana Spoke’s writing is her protagonist’s inner monologue. Isa Maxwell is witty, aphoristic, and entirely unexpected. It is Isa’s inner narrative, her never-stopping need to constantly make fun of herself and everything around her that gives Ana Spoke’s writing its unique voice.

Isa is funny because she says it like she sees it. Isa is not afraid to “compromise” her beauty by unladylike descriptions of herself. In the chase scenes, she hilariously describes herself a sweating, and screaming, and bulging her eyes. In describing her altruistic intentions, she does not hesitate to admit that she nearly gets her beneficiaries killed. Issa’s franchise is compete and hilarious honesty.

I screamed in what I hoped sounded like psychotic desperation

sweating like a pig added to the already convincing show.

Isa’s apparent schtick is that she is an ungraceful silly klutz who just happens into favorable situations, but if one bothers to parse what’s really happening, it is easy to see that there’s more to her fortunes. Indeed, Isa comes out ahead not because of sheer luck, but because of perseverance, optimism, and unpretentiousness.

And because she is funny. Indeed, if you set out to look for the best soundbites, you’ll end up quoting most of the text.

Even the names of the chapters sound like comedic TV episode titles: “My trigger finger is getting all sweaty!” or “Diamonds, of course!”

She would see that we had a lot in common, if she only stopped yelling for a moment. 

The characters, the conflict, the franchise—I could talk more about all that, but what’s most important is that Isa Maxwell series has the secret ingredient which makes or breaks a series: there is the genuinely life-loving character and there is THE FUN. And in writing and TV, that’s what you cannot fake or fix, so that’s what probably what matters the most.

But do not take my word for it.

Buy your own copies of Isa Maxwell Escapades, and see for yourself.


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