The Contortionist’s Handbook by Craig Clevenger is a book that I know my younger self would enjoy quite a bit. It is filled with rampant drug use, dark humor and lives that are lived on the edge of sanity and danger. But now, as an adult, I find that those qualities are not enough for me to like any book. They are welcome, for sure, and even made this book quite a bit of fun at some points, but its problem and the problems with many books like this, is that they severely lack substance. It shocks the audience into having a completely visceral reaction to actions and scenes in the book, but the feelings they inspire are superficial in nature and hardly last longer than the book itself. But I do feel Clevenger is talented, creating a character that is on the verge of being repugnant with a backstory you can’t look away from. The story begins with a man named Daniel Fletcher admitted to a Los Angles trauma center who is the victim of a drug overdose. Was it accidental or was it suicide. That question becomes unimportant when we find put that Daniel Fletcher is actually John Vincent, an exceptionally skilled con artist who is also a math genius and having an extra digit on his right finger. As the story unfolds, we learn whom he came into having so many identities and why his cover may be comprised. The real joy here is finding out the intricacies of how John changes identity. He picks a common name and researches that person to forge every detail. It is cool, but it becomes a one-trick pony fast when the story doesn’t have the emotions it should have, ending with an ambiguous shock that packs no punch. But you should still check this out since it is quite a journey beside the point.