Author: Rob Grant
Publication Date: 2003
Blurb On the back:
Article 13199 of the Pan-European Constitution:
‘No person shall be prejudiced from employment in any capacity, at any level, by reason of age, race, creed or incompetence.’
In a united Europe of the near future, incompetence is not an option, it’s compulsory. You can’t be fired for being bad at your job. But the rules don’t apply to the psychopath who’s leaving a trail of corspes across the continent. He’s very competent indeed.
And so, down these mean, increadably badly sign posted streets, one dectective must thread his way through a maze of blind nightclub bouncers, octogenarian male bunny girls and airline pilots with vertigo.
In search of a killer. in search of the truth. In search of a decent plumber.
A novel of the far too near future.
Harry is an deep cover agent for Europol dealing with security issues and possible international incidents. These occur almost on a minute by minute basis Europe is now one entity (The United states of Europe,) and is now tolerant of incompetence, and where everyday farce is almost mandatory.
Harry uses a number of different identities, including Harry Salt, Cardow Vasuler and Harry Tequila and communicates with other Europol agents via the medium of the personal ads section of various magazines. One of his contacts, Klingferm, has summoned him to Rome, however, before they can meet Klingferm is murdered.
As Harry starts to investigate it’s clear that someone is committing a series of high profile murders designed to look like accidents. Following the trail, Harry travels to Paris and then onto Vienna, moving from one mishap to another, trailed by an Italian cop with anger management issues and hampered by a society that basks in incompetence, on the trail of a killer who seems anything but incompetent.
This is a weird novel, It’s an old school Noir novel wrapped in a futuristic comedy setting. To be honest the book is ropy in most places as it seems to be very shallow and just lumbers from one gag to another. These gags while funny are not held closely enough together by the plot and the character development leaves alot to be desired, especially from a writer that gave us Lister, Rimmer, The Cat and Kryten. The characters are too two dimensional and almost like a characterful of themselves. From the angry Italian police officer to the overly sexual French girl it plays on stereotypes and the good bits of the novel are outweighed by the bad for the most part.
It’s an ok read if you like that sort of thing but personally if your looking for a humor filled Noir style book I would recommend Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith over this.
4.5 out of 10
I might hold on to this book though as the way the EU is going it might become a guideline for the future.