BOOK REVIEW: A FEW WORDS FOR THE DEAD / AUTHOR: GUY ADAMS / PUBLISHER: EBURY PRESS / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 9TH
For the third book in Guy Adams’ otherwise hilarious Clown Service series, there has been a major change in tone. The chirpy doom-mongering of the first two has been replaced by a darker tale (this was always intended to be the case, according to Adams), which takes the plotlines begun in those books and ties them all up for this possibly final outing (further books are a possibility but are by no means guaranteed; such is the way in the publishing world).
The change in tone doesn’t impact other aspects of the book, however. A Few Words for the Dead is excellently plotted; there is a key moment near the end that is set up so subtly throughout the rest of the book that when we made the connection, it was electrifying in a way that happens so rarely for us these days. One obvious plot point, which we were getting ready to mark the book down for when we were reading it, turned out to be a masterful piece of misdirection.
Those looking for more tales of Toby, Tamar and the wacky antics of Section 37 will find themselves out of luck; this is very much the August Shining Power Hour. Though the book does start with an elegant recap courtesy of Tamar, A Few Words is not a good jumping-on point for new readers, as it’s not indicative of the series as a whole. Most of the humour that was omnipresent in both the dialogue and narration of the first two books has been lost, which is perhaps a by-product of the change in protagonist and is certainly a result of the darkness that overshadows the novel.
If this is to be the final case for Shining and co, then at least they’re going out on a high. Lord knows there aren’t a lot of trilogies that are this consistently good. But by god, we hope it isn’t the last one.
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