Ned Beauman's Boxer, Beetle & Naughty Hot Tomatoes
Ned Beauman’s first novel certainly doesn’t play it safe. The relatively quick read manages to bring Fascists, assassins, sufferers of rare diseases, billionaires, anti-Semetics, gay gigolos, and even professional cacophonists together in one crazy ride.
Kevin “Fishy” Broom is the narrator of the tale, though we readers find ourselves zooming throughout time, in and out of Broom’s narration. His unfortunate nickname is appropriate. The sufferer of a rare disease that gives him an incurable stench, Fishy usually hides behind his computer screen poring over Nazi collector forums. He is employed by an incredibly rich Hitlerophile named Grublock, who owns the most sought-after Nazi memorabilia in the world. Fishy is tasked with monitoring the fascist e-scene, running mildly nefarious errands, and snatching up the occasional find. This all changes when death walks in the door. (Too melodramatic for you? Then don’t read this book.)
Next thing we know, Fishy has found a dead colleague, a letter from Hitler, and an unwanted assassin companion. They embark on an insanely twisted and dangerous fact-finding mission all rooted in some dark history.
Broom’s hunt takes us back to Europe, right before WWII. Philip Erskine is a young, uptight, sexually repressed entomologist from a prominent fascist family. Obsessed with eugenics, Erskine believes in racial purification and improvement through genetic alteration. His path to get there? Beetles. Slowly but surely, Erskine is creating a super-breed of beetles, and he hopes that his learnings will eventually apply to homo sapiens.
His first and only human subject is a Jewish pugilist named Seth “Sinner” Roach. As you can imagine, Jews are not particularly popular among this set of characters, and it doesn’t help that Sinner is a nine-toed, alcoholic gay man of tiny stature. But his boxing skills and bad-boy charm are unparalleled. Erskine is obsessed by such a mess of genetic contradictions, and determines to make Sinner his permanent lab rat (in life and death).
Throughout the book, you’ll have many head-scratching moments. Who murders Erskine’s future brother in law? How many people will Sinner deflower? How many things are robotized in the Erskine mansion? Why, exactly, are most of the main characters afflicted by really weird physical ailments? Who hired the assassin holding Fishy captive?
These are all good questions, and some will be answered.
Boxer, Beetle reminds me of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. It’s a little crazy, you feel like you shouldn’t be as into it as you are, but somehow you’re hooked until all (or most) of the puzzle pieces fall into place. I recommend making this your go-to for an edgy but digestible beach read.
I designed this recipe in homage to Sinner, a small guy who can pack a big punch. Camparis may not be giant, but you can stuff a lot of flavor in there! And beware the fool who underestimates these Naughty Hot Tomatoes.
NAUGHTY HOT TOMATOES
- Olive oil
- 12 campari tomatoes
- Small log of herbed goat cheese
- Bunch green onions (sliced into thin rounds)
- Small yellow onion (diced)
- Garlic (minced)
- 1 jalapeño (sliced into thin rounds)
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Cut each tomato in half and scoop out the ooey gooey insides. (I used a grapefruit spoon and it worked like magic). Set aside.
Saute your yellow onion until very soft, almost caramelized. Add your green onion and a dash of minced garlic. Saute until green onions are slightly tender.
Stir your onion mixture in with your cheese in a bowl.
Stuff each tomato half with a scoop of filling. Place a jalapeño ring on the top of each stuffed tomato.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the tomato is soft but still retaining shape. Let cool slightly, and enjoy!