I was nagged by Amazon’s suggestions and some sneakily targeted advertising on Facebook to have a look at this, and as the price at the time was under £3 for the Kindle version, I thought I might as well give it a try – it fitted in nicely while I was waiting for the next book I’ll be reviewing.
Andy Caplet is a not all that young junior reporter for the local newspaper in Sorenchester, a small town in the Cotswolds, an area of South West England for those not familiar. His self-obsessed, unsuccessful life is turned upside down, inside out and generally given a good shaking when he gets the job nobody else wants. He’s assigned to work with local police officer Inspector Hobbes, who has an, err, interesting reputation. Well, more terrifying than interesting…
When Andy meets Hobbes, it’s clear that this is no ordinary policeman. You might think Morse was a bit eccentric, but Hobbes is something else altogether. Indeed, he seems to be not quite human. He’s a very large, very hairy character who can intimidate just about anyone without even trying. And that’s before you learn about his method of driving.
Andy’s life gets even worse when he manages to lose his home (fire, probably caused by his own carelessness) and his job (fired for being generally useless) and is obliged to move into Hobbes’s spare room, where he’s taken good care of by Hobbes’s housekeeper Mrs Goodfellow. She’s apparently “lost” her husband, and so Andy gets to wear his clothes, what with his own having been destroyed in the fire. Mrs Goodfellow turns out to be an incredibly good cook, Hobbes turns out to be a very interesting character, and Andy…
Anyway, a lot of fun and games go on. Andy meets some interesting not quite human people (as Ford Prefect put it, the things are also people), including a very helpful Troll, some not all that bad once you get to know them Ghouls, and some really all that bad once you get to know them actual people. He also runs into some quite atrocious gags, such as this little gem:
The last time I had occasion to arrest him was for persistent indecent exposure. He claimed he’d considered giving up but wanted to stick it out for a little longer. I dissuaded him.
Oh dear. He also commits a few himself:
The belt clicked around my belly and he started the engine with a roar. Why he roared, I’ll never know and I came within a whisker of wetting myself.
Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
Just to keep things interesting, there is some Deadly Peril, a nice bit of Redemption, and loads of puns to keep things moving.
If you like Charlie Stross’s Laundry books and Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series, this may well appeal. It lacks the eldritch horror of the former and the brain melting magic of the latter, but it shares their humour, has a nicely entertaining first person style and is, above all, fun.
It’s billed as book one in the unhuman series – a nice distinction. While Hobbes clearly isn’t an actual human (though what he actually is isn’t revealed), calling him inhuman would be to suggest that this is a Bad Thing, which it quite clearly isn’t.
There’s another two books out so far, and I’ll be getting round to those as soon as my tuit supply permits.
 At today’s price, it’s a very tempting 99p
 And you should be thinking about that name, and take a guess at her husband’s first name…
 You really should, you know