The Unpleasantness at Baskerville Hall

Chris Dolley. Book View Cafe (bookview-, $14.99 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-1-61138-553-3
Jeeves and Wooster meet (or run face-first into) Holmes and Watson with a touch of steampunk in the hilarious first full-length Reeves and Worcester tale (previous ones were collected in What Ho, Automata). This laugh-out-loud parody works on several levels. Reginald Worcester might not be very bright, but he’s smart enough to know that when his fiancée, Emmeline, runs off to visit the movie-making Baskerville-Smythe family, trouble is likely to follow. When the Baskerville scion turns up dead, a disguised Reginald and his automaton butler, Reeves, are the only ones who can prevent more deaths. The jokes, wordplay, and satire come fast and furious in the opening pages and continue through to the ending, even when the sleuths are reviewing clues for the reader. Reginald’s heart is in the right place, but he’s not what one would call competent, leading to amazing set pieces such as a sequence involving fingerprints and flour. Dolley limits the speculative elements to talking robots and Mary Shelley–style reanimations, which feel organic to the setting. With razor-sharp wit and fast pacing that plays fair with the reader, this is an excellent genre mash-up that fires on all cylinders. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
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