BOOK REVIEW - DR JEKYLL & MR SEEK, ANTHONY O'NEILL
Many years have passed since Dr Jekyll suddenly left London society. Lawyer Mr Utterson, seemingly steadfast in his continued assistance to the absent Dr Jekyll, has been busy making plans. Lasting plans, and they include a lady’s affection. Dr Jekyll’s vacant town house is soon to come into the possession of Mr Utterson himself, now that the required seven year period has passed. Nothing can stop Mr Utterson in his ascension now. And yet it does. The return of Dr Jekyll is a sensation.
There is something of a huge comfort in picking up a book that possesses that air of gentility which was common to works written in the latter part of the 19th century. The first pages of DR JEKYLL AND MR SEEK instantly catapult the reader into a murky world where deception and nefarious acts are committed by intelligent yet desperate men.
DR JEKYLL & MR SEEK is a delightfully immersive read that quickly draws us into a world we never knew we had been missing. A relatively short foray back to 1800’s England, this book wastes no pages in being overly descriptive and instead well spends in gloriously period dialogue and the suitably outraged inner splutterings of Mr Utterson as he investigates this most grievous of wrongs. We’re easily caught up and sympathetic towards Mr Utterson who has had the best of intentions all along and seems quite deserving to inherit from the considerable burden of his secret knowledge.
DR JEKYLL & MR SEEK is neatly crafted of course around the key events of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE. You don’t need to know much about the first book in order to respect the homage paid in this modern day follow up and this novel is successful without the need to include an onerous summary of the first. A small but respectful continuation of a very grand tale.
Review - MISTER RAINBOW IN THE CASE OF THE COCK ROBIN KILLER, C.S. Boag
Rainbow's got the blues. His girlfriend's dumped him; his assassin mate Rory's found God; his Aunt Rube's as sick as a bad joke; and his ex-wife's thrown up a barricade - all right, a cordon bleu - around his daughter Imogene.
So when a snake's let loose in a laboratory, his ballet teacher's under siege and a nasty little joker by the name of Cock Robin cops it, Rainbow climbs into the ring because it's his job - but also because he needs the distraction.
Number 5 in the Rainbow series, and THE CASE OF THE COCK ROBIN KILLER might be blue about lots of things, but it won't make you blue to read it. In fact you'll probably find yourself snorting with laughter, or at least rolling your eyes as the puns fly left, right and centre.
The reader of any of my earlier reviews of this wonderfully silly, oddball series will know that I'm a bit of a fan. They are the sorts of books that you pick up late on a Sunday afternoon when you just want to be amused, and not think about the ills of the world. Obviously they are meant to be slightly tongue-in-cheek, and you must read them in that manner (after all our hero's name is Rainbow!) but there is sufficient hat-tips to the standard noir sensibilities that make you realise it's done with huge affection.
Given those hat-tips, there's a slightly damaged (and now reformed) sidekick; a beautiful woman as a colleague; and there's thugs, photographers and a mildly alarming build up of bodies. There's wisecracks, and a tendency for Rainbow to have been there, done that, lost the t-shirt in a card game. Definitely one to put aside for one of those Sunday reading sessions.
Review - Mr Rainbow Series, C.S. Boag
She's a surgeon, she's beautiful and she desperately wants Mister Rainbow to shed some light on her husband's past. But when he does, she wishes he hadn't. Because what Rainbow discovers is a handless hood - and a whole lot of murders. Rainbow's a retro private eye who keeps himself to himself. He lives (illegally) on a boat in Sydney Harbour, has no identity, and frequents speakeasies. He's also got a nemesis called Pandora ...
This gloriously retro private eye series is purely for fun.
Crime fiction tends, in the main, to take itself very seriously. Murder after all, isn’t a laughing matter, and the exploration of who did what to whom sometimes demands the playing of a very straight bat. Full review at Newtown Review of Books
THE CASE OF THE DEATH OF A LADIES' MAN - C.S. Boag
When Mister Rainbow finds a headless honcho in a King’s Cross alleyway, the tattoo around the corpse’s neck leaves little doubt as to its identity. Thomas L. Tycho was everybody’s enemy – a trickster, a dirty dealer, and a wide boy who made the mistake of wide boys the world over – not making himself a great deal narrower when the gun went off.
Many years ago I went through one of those reader phases where I deliberately sought out weird titles just because there's nothing better than a quest. (Okay well any excuse to haunt bookshops and secondhand shops...) So THE CASE OF THE DEATH OF A LADIES' MAN appealed if for no other reason than a bit of nostalgia for that fun (and the sudden realisation that it might be time to revive it!)
The book started out with quite a bang, and the details of a corpse found in a King's Cross alleyway that is guaranteed to make you sit up, pay attention, and work out very rapidly that there's a sly and dry sense of humour at work here. As well as a distinct requirement for readers who are up for a bit of slang translation, and a leaning towards the odd. Spread like Vegemite from the knife of somebody who obviously has no idea. You know the sort - makes you snicker even though you know you shouldn't...
As required for something with such a huge hat tip to the golden age of pulp fiction, we've got a hero (Mr Rainbow) who does a fine, and rather elaborate line in wisecracks and asides to camera, many of which are particularly Australian. We've also got a female sidekick who might not necessarily be on the side of the angels, an ex-wife and child, an ex-colleague and born again Christian, a heap of pissed off local gangsters, and a boat on the loose in Sydney Harbour. It's almost impossible to pick a timeframe in which this book is set, and it doesn't matter a damn. Everything seems to slot together, much like the wide boy in gun sights alluded to in the blurb.
On the dark side of funny THE CASE OF THE DEATH etc etc had me laughing out loud at the most inappropriate points, and was considerably more fun than I thought it was going to be. Whilst it is a hat-tip to the old pulp style, it's got enough originality and smarts to wipe away any suspicion of a crutch. You'll need to have one of those daft, slightly silly senses of humour and approach this as being from the entertaining, rather than illuminating side of crime fiction, which is no bad thing. There's an earlier book in the series - THE CASE OF THE HOOD WITH NO HANDS. Haven't read that one yet but I'm going to rectify that the next time I need an antidote to the dark and dire.