My blogging seems to have slipped a fair bit recently – it’s no longer a certainty I will complete either the Bond or Doctor Who series by their deadlines as RL gets in the way. However, I’m still going and in the meantime, I’ve read a novel that I felt worth reviewing.
That novel is Nev Fountain’s Geek Tragedy, the first of three (so far) novels featuring amateur detective and TV science fiction writer Mervyn Stone.
Where we’re at
Mervyn Stone is an ageing former script editor on a (fictional) 1980s BBC science fiction soap opera called Vixens from the Void, a trashy affair with big shoulder pads and dodgy special effects. With little work since then, he finds himself unable to escape the show he worked on and does conventions for the money. Unfortunately for him, wherever he goes, murder follows.
Stone is attending ConVix 15, a convention being held in a tacky hotel near the M25 motorway, when one of the organisers apparently gases himself to death in one of the show’s original props, a ‘sentient’ car. Teaming up with a Special Constable, he investigates the murders (for there is more than one), while having to deal with crazy fans and crazier women, including Vanity Mycroft, one of the show’s former divas.
· While I’ve never been to a convention myself, the world of them seems convincingly portrayed; I suspect that Fountain has drawn on a good number of RL experiences, including those of Nicola Bryant (who he credits in the book).
· The supporting characters are strongly done – especially some of Stone’s former colleagues.
· There are a lot of great laughs in this book, especially at some of the awkward situations that our hero ends up in. There are also some little nuggets of humour that come out if you know your British works.
· The mystery is genuinely well done and you don’t see the identity of the murderer coming – then again, I am generally rubbish at these things unless it’s an American show and one of the actors is particularly well known.
· The book is aware of the conventions of the genre and plays with them well – the well done prologue (in the style of an episode guide) talking about a death in a fire makes it obvious something is up with that. It also just about gets away with a genre fundamentally hard to justify in a modern setting.
· This isn’t a book for kids – there are some very adult moments in this and on occasion, Fountain overdoes it.
· The story takes a little while to get going.
An enjoyable, but not perfect novel; certainly worth looking at if you’re a Doctor Who or British sci-fi fan.