Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Dork Review: Dick Richards: Private Eye

The title of Dick Richards: Private Eye has an almost Inception-like quality to it. It's a story about a man named Dick whose last name could be shortened to Dick who is also a private dick, and no, I don't mean he's genitalia for private use; he's a detective. It also has a very trippy feeling, much like Inception.

It's funny I keep comparing this book to a movie but it seems to fit for some reason.

Not just any kind of a detective though. Dick is involved in some heavy magical shenanigans, and so deeply involved he has no idea how in over his head he is. He's tasked to solve a case involving unknown magical weapons, and as with any good crime drama there's baddies galore, and the occasional babe, for him to contend with.

I liked this book. It's a good first effort from Mister Chris Wong Sick Hong. (And no, I am not making up the authors name nor making fun of it - that's actually the gentleman's name). By a good first effort I mean that while this book isn't perfect, it makes up for it's flaws by being entertaining. First, let's look at the good.

Dick Richards: Private Eye does a good job of balancing various contradictory elements. It's a fantasy/noir-detective/science-fiction novel, with liberal takings from all three genres. Done wrong this could have really, really backfired, but in this novel it mostly works out. At first these elements would seem jarring put together, but Mr. Hong does a decent job of weaving them together.

It helps that Dick Richards is an interesting character with the tortured appeal present in a lot of noir-fiction, without feeling like a pastiche or rip-off of existing characters. I should point out though that my familiarity with noir-detective stories is rather slim so I may have missed a few subtle winks or flat out thefts from existing works.

Where the book falls down is keeping some of it's elements straight. At times if seems as if everybody knows about magic and dwarves and elves and such while at other times it seems there's a giant masquerade hiding these things from the world. It's never made clear, and frustratingly so. Also, another genre is thrown into the mix closer to the end that I'm not sure quite works.

At times the book feels like it's an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink kind of work but without the humor one would expect. This isn't a funny book but it isn't a serious one either.

I think, in the end, that Dick Richards: Private Eye is going to be an acquired taste for some people and will have a sharp divide between those who like and those who don't. If you like crazy genre-mashing works then you'll like it. If you don't want science-fiction in your fantasy or vice-versa, well then you probably hate chocolate and peanut butter together so there's no hope for you and this book isn't the one for you. (Just kidding by the way - who doesn't like chocolate and peanut butter together?)

One final note though, I do love the cover art for the book and so want the hat they have Dick wearing.

As always, the book is available on Amazon or you could check with your local retailer to see if they can order it for you.

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