Reviews > Published on December 12th, 2016

Bookshots: ‘The Show House’ by Dan Lopez

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


The Show House

Who wrote it?

This is the first novel of Dan Lopez, a writer whose short stories have appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, The Collagist, The Millions, Time Out New York, Storychord and others.

A complicated exploration of the relationships between parents and their children, not to mention between siblings...

Plot in a Box:

A family weekend goes wrong, while a serial killer is targeting young, gay men in Orlando night clubs.

Invent a new title for this book:

I would call it: No Such Thing as “Normal”

Read this if you like(d):

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

Meet the book’s lead(s):

The plot revolves around the family, Thaddeus and Cheryl and their son Stevie, his partner Peter and their adopted daughter Gertie, with a good portion of the story devoted to Thaddeus and Stevie. Thaddeus is retired and, if anything, seems to be verging on the edge of dementia, whereas Stevie is a salesman for a realtor and volunteer at a shelter for LGBT kids who has a boyfriend on the side named Alex.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

I think Alec Baldwin would be a good fit for Thaddeus and Zac Ephron would be a good fit as Stevie.

Setting: would you want to live there?

It’s Orlando, so no.

What was your favorite sentence?

Anger, fury – those emotions he understands, but Stevie inherited his mother’s icy contempt, and while that kind of calculated disposition may inoculate one to the types of rage that have defined most of his life, it does so by poisoning the emotional reservoir with spite until sooner or later there’s no charitable feeling left.

The Verdict:

Thaddeus and Cheryl have been invited to stay with their son Stevie and his partner Peter and adopted granddaughter Gertie while their house is being fumigated. The problem is Stevie and Thaddeus haven’t spoken for three years and their relationship has always been “turbulent.” Laila, a pharmacist is worried about her brother Alex, who disappeared six months ago during a hurricane and, unbeknownst to her, is living with Stevie in the show house of the title. Messy, right?

A complicated exploration of the relationships between parents and their children, not to mention between siblings, The Show House is complicated too. It’s certainly not a sanitized view of life, showing all the messiness of blood and how it screws up the most organized life. Throw in a serial killer targeting young gay men and it’s almost too much to deal with.

My biggest problem with the book was that the characters were so messed up that I didn’t feel much sympathy for them. The only one I came close to was Laila, but she’s constantly being manipulated by her brother and step-mother. If this sounds like your cup of tea, give it a go, although if you’re not keen on graphic sex, you should probably give it a miss. For me, the promise of a serial killer was what drew me, but the reality of the plot disappointed.

About the author

Dean Fetzer is originally from a small town in eastern Colorado, but has lived in London, England, for 21 years now. On reaching London, he worked as a graphic designer and web consultant before starting a pub review website in the late 90’s.

His current book series, The Jaared Sen Quartet is set in near-future London, but also encompasses historical elements, reflecting his fascination with missing artifacts and conspiracy theories.

Dean left pub reviews behind in 2011 to concentrate on his writing and to set up a new company offering publishing services to authors, poets and artists as well as blogging and writing book reviews on his website at He lives in east London with his wife and two cats and dreams (often) of a house in France.

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