cover image The Double: An Investigation

The Double: An Investigation

Don Webb. St. Martin's Press, $22.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-312-19144-3

Too much sex, some dopey philosophy spun from grade-B SF novels and New Age tracts and a sprinkling of genuinely funny lines mark this hybrid mystery/fantasy debut. Computer game designer John Reynman finds a dead man in his Austin, Tex., house. The body has tattoos where John has tattoos, and dyed bronze-colored hair where John's is natural. The Austin cops are naturally interested. John is worried. He hires lawyer Michelle Galen, who quickly becomes his lover and, later, his ex-wife's lover. An unlikely amalgam of stud and nerd, John follows a trail back in time to a secret society of adventurers that included his deceased father and Dr. Niles, who knew John's dad and helped him find a fortune in silver. Webb doesn't deliver clarity, but energetic prose and computer gaming lore abound. The story, if it were relieved of the obsessive focus on sex and some of the semi-philosophical, pseudo-mystical speculation, would carry readers along on a pleasant ride. (Oct.)