Books : reviews

Heide Goody, Iain Grant.
Pigeon Park Press. 2016

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 26 February 2018

It’s the end of the world as we know it, but someone still needs to do the paperwork.

Incomprehensible horrors from beyond are going to devour our world but that’s no excuse to get all emotional about it. Morag Murray works for the secret government organisation responsible for making sure the apocalypse goes as smoothly and as quietly as possible.

In her first week on the job, Morag has to hunt down a man-eating starfish, solve a supernatural murder and, if she’s got time, prevent her own inevitable death.

The first book in a new comedy series by the creators of ‘Clovenhoof’, Oddjobs is a sideswipe at the world of work and a fantastical adventure featuring amphibian wannabe gangstas, mad old cat ladies, ancient gods, apocalyptic scrabble, fish porn, telepathic curry and, possibly, the end of the world before the weekend.

Morag Murray has been transferred to the Library in Birmingham, to remove her from an unfortunately fatal event in Edinburgh. The Library is a front for a secret government organisation ensuring that the impending end of the world, to be brought about by the invading Venislarn, condemning all to eternal torment, goes ahead as smoothly as possible, with all the proper processes followed, and all the correct paperwork filed. This is made difficult by the Venislarn themselves, and a motley crew of other minor gods and their hangers on.

I should have liked this. It’s got similarities with Charles Stross’ Laundry series, with Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, with Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, and with Daniel O’Malley’s Checquy Files series. I love all of those, but this somehow just didn’t work for me. It’s perfectly well written, with lots of imaginative details and a carefully crafted plot. But I think it goes just a step too far: both bizarre circumstances and a bizarre team of misfits investigating them. Usually it’s (relatively!) ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and it’s possible to identify with them. Here it feels the authors are trying just a bit too hard to be clever and funny, leaving nothing prosaic to contrast that humour with.

I’m not unhappy I read this, but I won’t be reading more in this world.