THE DOOMSDAY BRUNETTE
John Zakour and Lawrence Ganems
DAW / 356 pages / 3 February 2004
There are some things that are just plain entertaining. Apparently, seeing a man hit/kicked/butted/etc. in the groin is endlessly hilarious. Seeing that ass who just blew by you at almost light-speed get pulled over is so satisfying. Flamingo chicks in the Spring bouncing up and down like gray popcorn all day has to provoke a smile. (Not everyone worked at Busch Gardens Tampa growing up? Never mind, then.) John Zakour and Lawrence Ganem’s invention Zachary Nixon Johnson, the world’s last surviving private investigator, is flat-out fun. Fortunately, he’s returned in another hard-boiled adventure. Or lunacy, whichever you prefer.
Zach and his mind-linked AI, Harv, are caught up in a high profile case with complications that multiply as fast as the number of suspects. Who else would Ona Thompson, of the infamous Thompson Quads, call when one of her sisters drops dead during a dinner party at her hyperbole of a mansion? After all, she is the richest woman in the world, so hiring the top — okay, only — PI seems the logical reaction. Unfortunately for Zach and Harv, that is probably the last logical thing about this murder mystery.
Let’s see… his employer and her sister are the result of cloning, have purple skin, include a superhero and a fairy queen. Poor Foraa, the anarchist, is that motionless, but attractive, heap on the carpet. The media which keeps a constant watch on the Quads is moving in for the scoop of the century. His relations with law enforcement could certainly use improvement. And Harv is making a few “improvements” of his own; his changes are enough to make a detective cry. Thankfully, they have the house computer, a sentient ape, and a decrepit butler to fill in the blanks. Now, if they would just fill them in truthfully. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon, however.
In a case that pushes Zach’s mind and body to the very limits of endurance, truth is in short supply. So is time to think things through. Forget about time to himself; HARV is always there — sometimes helpful, sometimes just annoying. And that’s not including the numerous, highly creative attempts on Zach’s life. There’s always something.
Aha! Therein lies the kick of Zach’s exploits. Readers never know what to expect, but they should know it is going to be wilder and more outlandish than anything they’re picturing. The situations are more absurd. The characters just will not behave in predictable ways. The settings defy belief, and then go on to defy even disbelief. Playing it big means not every joke hits the mark, but, even when they miss, it’s hard to convince yourself Ganem and Zakour didn’t achieve exactly what they intended. And something tells me they’re not talking. Having a hell of a good time, no doubt, but keeping strictly mum.