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Return Policy by Michael Snyder

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Return Policy by Michael Snyder

Reviewed by Cheryl Russell

"...has the same quirky humor that came to light in his first novel..."

Willy Finneran has problems—with writer’s block, the truth, attempted murder by his senile aunt once a year, a transplanted heart he’s sure won’t last much longer, an espresso maker that refuses to die, narcolepsy that strikes when he hears a chord in E-flat (a weird result of his heart transplant) and dealing with conflict. Adding to his angst, his agent keeps calling. Willy ignores his calls and deletes his messages, not wanting to deal with the bad news he’s sure is coming his way. But what really does Willy in is an unfortunate incident with Rufus the Badger, beloved mascot of the Jefferson High Lightening Badgers—the hated rivals of Willy’s high school and the presiding judge’s alma mater. Yes, the incident goes to trial and the scales of justice don’t tip in Willy’s favor.

For his sentence, Willy finds himself at Mercy Mission, run by a priest named Father Joe Carter, a man who has suffered great injustice of his own and who is less than pleased with his court-ordered community service project. Willy is assigned by Father Joe to keep an eye on one of the homeless men named Shaq, a giant of a man with a temper, no memory of his past and who likes to smell women. Willy, informed by his lawyer than even a jaywalking ticket could land him in jail, is in over his head with Shaq.

But there is a calm spot in the chaos that is Willy’s life. Ozena Webb is a customer service representative at Javatek, the company that manufactured Willy’s never-say-die espresso machine. Ozena is thrown by Willy’s particular complaint—that the espresso maker is made too well and nothing in Willy’s arsenal can defeat it. But being the good representative that she is, she offers to help Willy try to replace his perfectly good machine with a broken one. Their budding relationship revolves around this unique customer service issue. Willy is also a centering point in Ozena’s own life; she’s the single mother of a brain-damaged son, struggling to provide the best she can for him, but in danger of being overwhelmed by the never-ending responsibility.

The lives of these four distinct, damaged characters intersect in unusual ways—via an espresso machine that refuses to die and a badger in danger of doing just that—but those bizarre intersections begin to bring about hope. That life can change for the better. Neglect can be forgiven. What once was lost may now be found.

Return Policy is the second book written by the talented author Michael Snyder. This novel has the same quirky humor that came to light in his first novel, My Name is Russell Fink. A supporting cast of characters—Lucy, his neighbors Ronnie and Gladys Cheevers, his best friend Doug—add to the zaniness and fun of the novel. But all is not fun and games. Willy beings to realize relationships matter and are worth fighting for, even if the odds are against you going into the battle.

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Cheryl Russell lives in the Midwest with her husband and three children. Her short stories, as well as a few articles, have been published in print and online. She's loved to read for as long as she can remember and puts all that time to good use writing book reviews for Infuze, Novel Reviews, and Title Trakk. She's also a member of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, FIRST network, Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour and American Christian Fiction Writers. She's currently working on her first novel. If she could, she'd spend her time hanging out in the thermal areas of Yellowstone in general, Norris Geyser Basin in particular. Another favorite spot is Kennicott, an old copper mining town in Wrangel-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, which is at the end of a 60 mile dirt road, 8 hours west of Anchorage. She and her family are frequent hikers in the national parks, and have pounded the dirt trails in Virginia, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. You can visit her at her blog, Unseen Worlds or at her website.