Look, I’m just going to admit it: The Rented Mule by Bobby Cole made me tap out. It made me quit.
It was so bad that I stopped reading it. Shut it down for good, returned it on the Amazon Kindle Unlimited platform in order to get something—anything—else. In my entire life, I’ve had only one other book make me stop reading it and put it away, never to come back.
I’d say the characters were cardboard, but that would be an insult to liquor boxes everywhere. I’d say the dialogue was inane drivel that failed to move the story forward, and that would be true. I’d say that there was more “telling” than “showing” and that would be true, too. There might be a really good novel buried somewhere in the 502 obnoxious (and just plain noxious) pages of The Rented Mule, but Bobby Cole is not the writer who can bring it out.
So that’s it. I’m done with it, after nearly 300 pages. I don’t care enough how it turns out. I don’t want to invest any more of my time on a bad book. I’m 43 years old, and I love to read. But as I get older, I have to have some sort of return on the investment of my time. The best novels make me think, expand my worldview in some way, or at least challenge my assumptions.
Entertainment is the lowest bar. Of course the story should be entertaining. And well-told. That’s basic. If you fail at that, you really have nothing left to offer, and I’m going to stop. Just stop. As far as The Rented Mule goes, I’m reminded of the Christopher Hitchens quote: “Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.”
I had high hopes for this book. An interesting premise, and a Southern writer who Amazon compared to Elmore Leonard. Well, folks: Amazon lies. While I was rooting for Cole to get this book on track (if for no other reasons than he’s an Alabama native and we share a rockin’ first name.), he just couldn’t pull it off. Whoever agreed to publish this tripe ought to be fired. (And possibly drawn and quartered. At the very least, they oughta bring back the rack for this offender.)
Published by Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint, this book is lower than the stuff a lot of quality “indie” writers are putting out these days. Horrendous. Avoid at all costs.