cover image The Big Score

The Big Score

K. J. Parker. Subterranean, $40 (104p) ISBN 978-1-64524-000-6

This entertaining if slow-moving comic fantasy novella from Parker (How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It) kicks off as Saloninus, a prominent playwright and con artist of the Caelian Republic, fakes his own death to evade his creditors. Though Saloninus goes into hiding, he is easily found by an unnamed former accomplice who manages to coax him back into a life of crime. The con is simple: Saloninus will write a new play that his accomplice can purport is a rare, unpublished work from his younger years and sell for a hefty sum. Saloninus’s coconspirator, meanwhile, uses her knowledge of forgery to make the manuscript appear authentically dated to the eyes of any fraud investigator. The wily pair manage to sell the play to a wealthy Duke—but an unaccounted for issue arises with the text itself, threatening their plans. Parker provides plenty of laughs as the preposterous crime plays out, but, though the characters are delightfully silly, their relationship with each other goes underexplored and the pace of their exploits often lags. This droll but uneven novella will most appeal to Parker’s existing fans. [em](Mar.) [/em]