While there is typically nothing funny about murder, author Tom Kranz manages to draw out more than a few smiles in his new novel Budland. The protagonist and a professional smart aleck, Bud Remmick, finds himself in jail after killing his intolerable boss, and he doesn’t seem to regret the choice in the least. The novel skips back and forth between life behind bars and the life Bud left behind, giving readers a better picture of why a seemingly smart and driven man would throw his freedom away for a single act of reckoning.
Bud is a fascinating character at the center of the tale, particularly in his responses to the challenges and dangers of prison life. However, as the book goes on, it becomes clear that his ingenious plan to rid himself of a terrible boss – and terrible person – may end up eliminating all the other good from his life, including his wife and his self-image.
Hilariously tongue-in-cheek at times, and thoughtfully profound at others, Kranz delivers a unique and entertaining book in Budland. As much as this book is about existence within the prison system, it is also squarely focused on the prisons we form in our own lives, and the extreme methods of escape some people inevitably choose. As such, it’s a well-rounded novel, in turns harrowing, heartfelt, and amusing, all of which Kranz deftly balances throughout this compelling story.