Downtown With the Book of Renown

Question Mark

Young Adult - Mystery
34 Pages
Reviewed on 01/18/2016
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Author Biography

Tom Hendricks is a Dallas-based musician, painter, writer, and creator of the 24 year old zine, Musea; that is FOR the best of Independent art, artists, and media; and AGAINST the worst of Corporate art, artists, and media.
Hendricks has suggested Postism arts and media. That is arts beyond all the isms and genres — a new type of more inclusive music, painting, writing, film, etc., plus a more independent media.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Downtown With the Book of Renown: Question Mark is a young adult short mystery story written by Tom Hendricks. Tom and Brad love mystery stories, and the two boys found themselves right in the middle of their own mystery/adventure after Brad’s strange accident outside the basement cafe where he and his parents were eating. Brad had finished early and decided to look around outside the cafe while his parents finished their meals. A large man rushed out from behind them and raced to the door, knocking into Brad and causing him to fall down. Brad was trying to get back onto his feet when he heard loud voices and gunshots from the street level. He could see the fat man's body half hanging over the wall over his head, and he noticed the man's hand opening. A small black book fell from his fingers and landed right near Brad's shoe. He couldn't help but grab it and put it in his pocket. What he found inside was quite irresistible indeed.

Who can resist the lure of a treasure map? I certainly couldn't, nor would I have expected mystery buffs, Tom and Brad, to do anything more than follow the clues. Tom Hendricks' short mystery story for young adults, Downtown With the Book of Renown: Question Mark, sparkles with excitement and energy as the two adventurers travel downtown in search of treasure. The reader is privy to the enhanced effects their enthusiasm lends to even the most prosaic everyday scenes witnessed from the windows of a public bus, and one can't help but get more and more involved as they near the spot marked X on the map. I had a marvelous time reading Downtown With the Book of Renown. Tom and Brad’s adventure was reminiscent of those classic Hardy Boys adventures I grew up reading, and I'm sincerely hoping to read more of their further adventures. While geared toward a young adult audience, preteen readers and adults who are still young-at-heart will most likely enjoy Downtown With the Book of Renown as much as I did. It's most highly recommended.

Lex Allen

The synopsis for Downtown with the Book of Renown by Tom Hendricks goes like this: “Two boys have one big adventure, when Bradley finds a treasure map and two keys in a memo book from the hand of a dead gangster. He names it the ‘Book of Renown.’ The map in the Book of Renown leads him and his friend Tom downtown to the Clarks Hotel. But how will they get inside, and what treasure will they find if they do?” Though I thought this blurb intriguing, I also felt it a little meager. As it turned out, it was perfect and the answer to the question was not close to anything I imagined.

I would not have known what to write as a review of this little story had I not done some investigation into the author and his other published works. With that information came enlightenment, so to speak. That Downtown with the Book of Renown is a well written, delightful read is, for me, a positive sign of Mr. Hendricks' imagination and writing skills. That it is also far off the current standard for fiction storytelling regarding plot, characterizations, dialogue, narrative detail and backstory is both intriguing and refreshing. It reads more like a script or screenplay, with little location description or narrator detail. Dialogue is written with the name of the speaker, followed by a semi-colon and then the words. There are no adverbs or adjectives to show the speaker’s emotional state; the author leaves that to me (and you) the reader. Excellent! Conversely, it misses the mark of purebred script/screenplay by quite a lot, as well.

I discovered that all of Mr. Hendricks’ written work follows this style to some degree and that it is intentional. The author’s stated goal is to “give an alternative to generic corporate arts.” He has accomplished this objective with resounding success. I am a new fan and I will read more by this author.

Tom Hendricks

Jack Magnus, thanks for your review. Downtown will most likely be the first and last adventure for the boys. I have many projects going on at the same time, and this book project was one of them. I had taken notes for it for over a decade. It had a number of plots that were interwoven, etc. I don't think that I can match that again, though I do have a film script where two boys find a rocket in a cave .... Perhaps I can tie Tom and Brad into another novel as minor characters that my readers might remember from this story.
Some info just for fun; I grew up with a friend named Brad Baker, and my name is Tom Hendricks. This was something we probably would have gotten into as junior high kids if the circumstances had happened to us. The novel was partly a tribute to our friendship and the fun we had.

Lex Allen, thanks for your review. I've written in this style so long I forget it's not the normal style. I appreciate that you went outside the novel to see that. My reason for writing in this part novel and part play style; is to get the story going and never stop it or interrupt it for excess explanation or descriptions. A lot happens, and we learn most of the character's personality in the dialogue and events. Compare how the parents tell the story at the front with how Bradley tells the story. Or did you notice how many times poor Bradley got cut throughout the story? I think there is enough layers of fun to read it a couple of times and see more each visit. In big events there is a lot that happens quickly and I wanted to express that atmosphere. The writing is sort of a hybrid of novel and play. Hopefully I mixed the best of both to get a quick moving read.
Note too there were lots of characterizations in such a short novel, from a young starlet, to all kinds of bad guys, to rational parents doing the best they can, to emergency workers, to a bus driver and the people riding the bus, to hotel workers from the laundry room to the desk clerks and the house detective, etc. I purposely packed a whole lot in these few pages.