Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Book Review: Set to Kill by Declan Finn

Take an Agatha Christie murder mystery. Make it THREE murder mysteries.

Replace the middle-aged Inspector with a security expert who happens to be a martial arts guru/all-around killing machine still dealing with the aftermath of saving the world as we know it.

Replace upper-class Brits with a collection of endearingly and/or annoyingly (depending on your perspective) odd characters inspired by real-life players in the sci-fi publishing world.

Stick it into the naturally insane environment that is the world's largest Sci-Fi/Fantasy con (fictionally renamed WyvernCon).

Add 'splosions, hired killers and enough weapons to run a minor war.

Oh and also make it funny enough to qualify as satire.

OK, so maybe it's nothing like an Agatha Christie mystery after all. But it is a darn good read. The reason I was thinking of Christie is because, underneath all the fun and goofiness and inside-baseball sci-fi literary community references, there is a solid plot worthy of an old-fashioned detective novel. As with any good mystery, the final reveals were surprising yet backed up by clues sprinkled throughout the story.

The pacing is good, and while some sidetracks and background sections slow down the main story, they're still amusing enough to keep the reader entertained. The violence is not as plentiful as Declan Finn's fans might expect, but there's still sufficient to keep the adrenaline flowing. The fully fictional characters are well enough developed that you can go into the story cold and still care about what happens to them; and those inspired by real life are easily recognizable while changed up just enough to still fit into a satirical fiction environment.

I can't find anything particularly "wrong" with this book to explain why exactly I'm only giving it 4 stars on review sites. Perhaps Mr. Finn set my expectations for his work too high and I've become stingier with my stars. That having been said, it's still very much recommended, if only as a palate cleanser in between his more traditional novels because it's just so very different. Enjoy and as always, Happy Reading!

Purchase Set to Kill on Amazon

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