Thursday, February 10, 2011
Very Bad Deaths, by Spider Robinson
(pb; 2004, 2006)
From the back cover:
"Blind to the beauty of his island home in Canada, shattered by the death of his wife of 32 years, American expatriate Russell Walker is ready to join her. But Smelly won't let him.
"Smelly -- notorious for his refusal to bathe -- was Russell's college roommate, back in 1967. He's lived a hermit's life ever since, and only Russell knows why: Smelly reads minds, can't help it -- and it hurts. After all these years, Russell is still the only person Smelly can stand to be near. And now Smelly urgently needs an intermediary with the police -- suicidal or not.
"He's learned that a serial sadist who would terrify Ted Bundy is at play in the Vancouver area. Unfortunately, he's only got scraps of information that aren't enough to ID either the killer or his next victims. And he can't even come close enough to a cop to tell his story.
"Against his better judgment, Russell brings this unlikely tale to Constable Nika Mandic, a tough but unlucky Vancouver policewoman -- and soon this mild-mannered Sixties survivor finds himself conspiring with a telepathic hermit and an upright cop to track a monster to his lair.
"But are the three together smart enough to stalk a creature who thinks of himself as the first true scientist of cruelty? If not, Russell's suicidal urges may be fulfilled sooner -- and much less painlessly -- than he planned."
Entertaining blast of a read that seamlessly welds various fiction genres together: historical, speculative and crime, with its tongue firmly planted in its wry cheek. The characters are interesting, the story is off-beat and memorable, and the novel is immediately involving (without any let-up).
Worth owning, this: it makes for a great lazy-day read.