So you’ve read my interview with the fabulous Duncan MacMaster, now you want to know what I thought of the book don’t you?
As mentioned yesterday, Hack tells the story of Jake Mooney, a ghost-writer who lands the biggest job of his career, writing the autobiogaphy of 80s TV star Rick Rendell. But when he arrives on Rick’s luxury paradise to start work, people start trying to kill him. Suddenly the most lucrative job of his career could also be his last one. But Jake’s used to dealing with scandal and he’s not going to go down without a fight. What is it that’s in Rick’s past that people are willing to kill to keep under wraps?
This is so much fun. Rick was the star of a (fictional) rival of Miami Vice and the book is paying homage to that like mad and it’s great. Jake is trapped in glamorous locations with glamorous people but someone keeps trying to murder him. As the book goes on he gets more and more battered and bruised, but some how manages to keep getting up and carrying on chasing down the bad guys. As Duncan said in his interview with me, Jake is a rank amateur, with no sleuthing skills at all – and that makes him great fun to read as he bumbles and crashes his way around the island stumbling upon clues and trying to stay alive.
Hack is very different from Duncan MacMaster’s first book for Fahrenheit Press, A Mint Condition Corpse. As Duncan said in the interview, in that Kirby’s a Holmesy, Poiroty type of sleuth – who can make great leaps of deduction out of nowhere and who has staff and piles of money to help him along the way. Jake is emphatically not that. But the two books do (perhaps unsurprisingly) share the same sense of humour and a wry look at the idiosyncrasies and peculiarities of people, even if the lead characters and settings are very different.
There’s also a great cast of supporting characters – including Rick’s ex-wife who is an aging and faded star who is trying to revive her career in all the wrong ways, and Rick’s daughter who improbably seems to be falling for Jake – despite his terrible Hawaiian shirts, paunch and increasing injury count.
If you’re in need of a dose of sunshine to escape the grey of the weather at the moment, Hack will do that for you – and make you laugh and take you away from whatever’s bothering you. I got my advance copy from Mr Fahrenheit* who took pity on me and my twitter moanings during my last batch of nightshifts and sent me this to cheer me up. And it worked. I was reading it in my lunch break (at 3am), I was reading it on the train home – and if I hadn’t got to the end just as I was arriving into my station, I would have stayed up to finish it. And I really like my bed after nightshifts. And I nearly raved about it in Book of the Week that week – but it would have been cruel to taunt you by telling you about it when you couldn’t read it.
*OK, so his name is Chris, but he is Fahrenheit Press, so in my head he’s Mr Fahrenheit à la Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now.