cover image Lady Slings the Booze

Lady Slings the Booze

Spider Robinson, Author Ace Books $18.95 (257p) ISBN 978-0-441-46928-4

As the title of the second Lady Sally Callahan novel shows, Robinson ( Callahan's Lady ) has not lost his touch for puns. Unfortunately, he has lost his touch for character, plot and dialogue. This book is hilarious in places, but its disparate parts never merge as a whole. The story is disjointed, and there are long stretches where nothing relevant happens. Private detective Joe Quigley is hired to track down an invisible attacker at Lady Sally's brothel, and ends up saving the world from rabid pacifists who want to nuke it. In between, everyone makes love and makes puns. The characters are collections of eccentricities rather than real people. When they aren't busy punning and wisecracking, they are preaching at Quigley, whose main function is to be amazed at everything he sees. Near the end of the book the tone suddenly turns serious, and the change is jarring. Readers who feel a need to groan at Robinson's puns would be better off rereading his early Callahan collections (e.g., Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon ). (Nov.)