Sunday, March 25, 2012


I enjoyed my return to Christopher Moore so much that I immediately followed it with another one, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove. That's always a risk, and I think I'll give myself a bit of a breather before I try another - it may not be a coincidence that the one Moore book I didn't absolutely love, Fluke, was one that I read in close succession to several other of his books. Still, this time it paid off: Lust Lizard was absolutely hilarious, and had Moore's signature combination of wit, style, and surprise. Oh, and without getting too spoilery, I'd like to point out that the title is a bit of a misnomer. It isn't actually called "Melancholy Cove."


Nope, this book sees us returning to Pine Cove. I think that Pine Cove was technically the setting of Moore's first book, Practical Demonkeeping, but I don't recall a whole lot of overlap between that book and the latter ones. Perhaps Mavis was in both. There's much more overlap between Lust Lizard and The Stupidest Angel; the latter book combines a whole bunch of characters from disparate Moore novels, and it's fun to get introduced to those characters after having seen them in latter form.

As usual, it's hard to decide whether the plots or the characters are the better feature. The plot is really fun: it nominally starts off as a bit of a mystery/whodunit investigation, with Constable Theo Crowe looking at a somewhat suspicious suicide. From the early pages, though, that storyline runs up against an eldritch horror story, very clearly indebted to H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. These two stories are joined and somewhat resolved through a mash of small-town California zaniness, including a lackadaisical psychiatrist messing with peoples' meds, illegal drug operations, disjointed economies based on seasonal tourism, and so on. Things don't proceed as you would expect, and though the tone can veer wildly from scene to scene, that's part of the fun.

The characters are great as well. I initially kind of linked Theo to Tucker, in that both are male protagonists who are marginally more sane than the people surrounding them, but they're pretty different people. I like Theo a bit more... in my mind, he has an earnest, hangdog, buzzed-out look to him; he's fundamentally a really good guy who is beyond the end of his rope and doesn't even pretend to be competent at what he does. I also absolutely loved the relationship between Theo and Molly, which totally inverts the stereotypical male/female roles in this kind of book; instead of Theo the strong, brave constable being the man who saves Molly from the ancient creeping horror, it's the insane buff female action hero who saves the soft-spoken and vulnerable constable on multiple occasions. I also totally loved Gabe the biologist and Skinner his dog; we got to see both of them in The Stupidest Angel, but they get more page-time here, and both are hilarious: Gabe in a somewhat stereotypical absent-minded nerd way (he never thinks about his clothes or appearance, and while being a generally amiable decent person he totally obsesses on whatever problem he's currently working on), and Skinner is just awesome. We're treated to a few passages told from Skinner's perspective, and so we learn of his loyalty and admiration for the Food Guy, his protective fondness for the Tall Guy, his secret desire to ride in the Big Red Car, and other doggy dreams. Let's see... the Black bluesman feels like a character who belongs in another novel, but he's still a fun character, the only one with any dialect, and the one who provides the most exposition in the book. We only catch a glimpse of H. P., but it's a great one that kind of consummates the whole Cthulhu thrust of the book. The sheriff makes a great villain. The most mysterious character for me was Val; early on it felt like she was being set up as the villain of the book, and she definitely bears a lot of the blame, but I couldn't possibly stay mad at someone willing to date Gabe; even though she's... not the most admirable person in the book, she's still on the side of the good guys at the end.


Once again, I need to set Moore aside to make sure I don't overdose (and to make sure that more remain when I finish reading my next Big Book). I'm really glad to have these two titles to carry me through, though.

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