Book Review: The Rented Mule by Bobby Cole

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.


3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Rented Mule by Bobby Cole

  1. While I applaud Thomas & Mercer for being such an innovative and industry skating publisher, I wish they’d move away from picking up previously self published books, because much like nearly all self published books, they’re terrible. I’ve found that the best Thomas & Mercer published books are the ones that come from authors who came over from NY publishers.

    • Thanks for commenting, JNW. I’d no idea that The Rented Mule was originally self-pubbed, but I certainly thought there was no way a real editor had read and approved it.

      What title(s) from Thomas & Mercer have you found interesting?

      • The authors that came over from NY publishers, like Marcus Sakey, John Rector, Sean Chercover, Blake Crouch, Barry Eisler, and Max Allan Collins seem to be on a higher level than the self published authors they fish out of KDP, but it depends on what you like to read.

        I haven’t read The Rented Mule, but your review makes me wonder if when they pick up self published titles they leave them basically the same. I’ve never read anything negative about them as a publisher. They sound unique and extremely author friendly, which would explain why so many authors are moving to them from NY. IMO,

        Whatever shakes up the old guard.

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