RogerBW's Blog

Practical Demonkeeping, Christopher Moore 27 September 2018

1992 comic fantasy, first of the Pine Cove series. Travis has been living with the demon Catch for nearly ninety years – the immortality and invulnerability aren't bad, but the murders are getting to him. He's finally tracked down a way of ending the pact, but it won't be easy.

In style this feels quite heavily influenced by the early Tom Holt, but it's not a direct copy; it also incorporates notes of Florida Weird in the Carl Hiaasen style. Of course it's California Weird, but it's the same sort of population of losers and wannabes and minor perverts, trying for their own tiny local goals and causing each other to stumble in the process.

The writing in general, and characterisation in particular, are very crude; this is a first novel, and it shows. Another first-novel problem is the amount of stuff going on; many of the subplots could be expanded to full length in themselves, but as things are they don't get enough time for proper development.

One can see a potential talent here and a sense of interest in the subject matter, but pacing is very variable, particularly when things grind to a halt for a chapter to give us yet another character's backstory. There are no out-and-out villains (except Catch), which is good, but nobody's much of a good guy either. A complete loser whose wife has walked out on him gets her back at the end, apparently merely because he chose the right side, because he certainly hasn't changed. (And how does he come up with a load of expensive camera equipment when we've specifically been told earlier that he sold all his kit?)

It's OK, but not at all great. Followed by The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.

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  1. Posted by John Dallman at 06:53pm on 27 September 2018

    I remember seeing that on the shelf in W H Smith's when it first came out. Great title, but a few dips-in revealed the very limited writing, and I left it at that.

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