Thursday, April 12, 2012

Death by Soap? Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Farce -a light dramatic work in which highly improbable plot situations and exaggerated characters are often used for humorous effect. A comedy characterized by broad satire and improbable situations.

    Now it might not surprise you that I like a good farce. I absolutely love the TV shows Eureka and The Big Bang. I read Midsummer Night's dream when I was 13 and adored it.  Not to mention that I collected the Myth Adventure series by Robert Asprin, loving every minute of the tongue in cheek adventures. However, it is better when you know something is meant to be a farce!
    I settled down to start reading  Marlowe and the Spacewoman, thinking I was in for some serious science fiction reading.  The first few pages were a little strange - talking dog and acid rain - but I survived. Then our hero gets killed by a bar of soap who bubbles "Nothing personal" as it removed the needle from Marlowe. "Just business."
     It is then I begin to think this book is maybe a little too strange for me. By  end of the next ten pages, light has dawned and I have a slumped forehead caused by the slap of the heal of my hand as I said over and over, "So this is that kind of book." Had I taken the time to truly read the "Praise for the modest Ian M Dudley's Work" section in the front of my Kindle copy, I might have sussed  the situation from the very beginning. I won't spoil the fun for you but do take a minute and read it when you get your copy.

Marlowe and the Spacewoman
By Ian M. Dudley
Published by Pallmark Press
Pages 324

From Amazon: 
        For Marlowe, an over-worked and oft worked over private eye recovering from yet another emergency resurrection, it's the start of a long day. He's murdered by a bar of sentient soap in the morning, and just when he's recovered enough to grab some lunch, a femme fatale crash-lands outside the City, causing a major political disturbance.
      Forced by the government to investigate her claims to be from outer space, Marlowe struggles to strike a balance between solving his own murder and resisting his attraction to the alleged yet alluring extraterrestrial. All while dodging additional assassination attempts and the meddling of powerful figures who have their own ideas about how the 'Affair with the Spacewoman' should end.

About the book: 
      Marlowe, a detective who loves reading and patterning himself after old detectives found in old mystery books, works for not so rich and not so legal people in a not so aboveboard way. But he is honest tempered with a great deal of caution. Currently he looks like Marlowe and has changed his name to match.
     We get a crash course in what Marlowe's world is like as we watch him help a woman escape The City where they live.  We see acid rain, common face lifts and talking dogs. But that doesn't quite prepare us for the murder of Marlowe by a bar of soap who is so sorry about it. Actually both Marlowe and the soap are sorry about it.
    And so begins Marlowe's investigation into his own murder. Unfortunately this work is interrupted by a call from his brother, the Governor, who hates Marlowe but keeps him around for the fun of it. He also  finds Marlowe useful at times and this is one of those times. An object has crashed into the brussels sprouts fields destroying the crop, an act punishable by death. The penalty would be carried out quickly but the person inside the object claimed to be have come from outer space.
   Because of a power play between the Governor and the head of the Ministry of Policing, Obedere, Marlowe must prove Nina the spacewoman really is from outer space.  All the time Marlowe must walk a narrow line between the two men in charge, Nina, and whoever is trying to kill him.

My take:
    Man was that a fun ride! Yes, it took me longer than it should have to realize what the book was, but once I figured it out, it was great. The descriptions in the book alone are worth the read. I loved the characters. No, they aren't like characters that you identify with or love because they are so deep, but they are the kind that you can feel connected with in a "I don't want to see him lose but I really want to see what the next mess he gets into is" kind of way. Marlowe's world is so full of interesting items from spray on clothes, to cars that drive themselves.
   The humor in the book is subtle at times and then full in your face at other times. I especially love how Marlowe figured out what weapon a stapler was and how it is to be used, having read about one in an old mystery once and finding one at an antique store. I won't spoil the surprise.

  I most highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good science fiction romp. The farce may be a bit over the top but the writing skill of the author far outweighs that. Besides, if over the top was too much we wouldn't have had the Three Stooges. But be warned, this book is nowhere near the slapstick that those heros of the theater were. Consider this much closer to a Eureka type story. I loved it and want to read more.

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