THE CLOWN SERVICE

PrintE-mail Written by Scott Varnham

The Clown Service

REVIEW: THE CLOWN SERVICE / AUTHOR: GUY ADAMS / PUBLISHER: DEL REY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

Possibly the greatest compliment we can pay Guy Adams is that this '40s-style spy novel set in the modern day reads like it was penned by a different Adams altogether. This is the spy thriller that Douglas Adams never wrote.

This book follows the misadventures of Toby Greene, a slightly incompetent spy who is transferred to Section 37. This is a section of the British Intelligence Service dedicated to fending off the paranormal. Fortunately, Greene spends just about the right amount of time not accepting this before realising what kind of novel he’s in and rolling with the punches. From there, it features time travel, astral projection (which leads to some very intriguing ideas) and a well-done zombie apocalypse.

The novel is not, strictly speaking, a comic spy story that features farcical situations played for laughs (that would be rather straying into Austin Powers territory). No, what makes it funny is the way Adams has with expressions, like the pub carpet that’s on 40 cigarettes a day or how the word ‘hello’ is transformed into ‘a useless, incomprehensible thing fat with vowels’ under the influence of alcohol. These and more just tickled us and lend an air of truth to a book in a genre renowned for its lies and, as we mentioned earlier, means that the book appropriately reads like the author is channelling Douglas Adams.

The book ends with something of a sequel hook (that’s not surprising because there is one coming soon), which is fine by us. We’re more than happy to read more adventures featuring this weird lot.

In the interview featured in the back of the paperback edition, Adams speaks of writing, how each book is a mad rush to the finish line and of being ‘quiet, sullen and convinced it’s all rubbish’. We hope that despite feeling that way during the writing process, he's now proud of the finished product. He certainly should be, it’s hilarious and well worth your time.

 


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