Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Book Review: Thomas Knapp and the Prophet of the Universe by David Daedalus

In this sci-fi mystery mankind has gradually colonised other habitable planets. However the opening of inter-dimensional gates to allow this has had other strange effects. Since it first happened detective Thomas Knapp has been unable to sleep. Aisha Ali has left her small town and her husband looking for something more out of life. Moving to New Chicago has been something of a disaster, and finding herself alone and broke she is desperate for work. When Knapp takes her on as a sort of receptionist come assistant she gets more than she bargained for.

While the sci-fi element is set up at the start and genetic engineering and other changes from the present have a role in the story this feels more like a slightly noir crime novel. Knapp is asked to investigate the apparent suicide of a young woman who was a member of a cult. Her brother doesn't believe she would take her own life so the detective and Aisha travel to their compound to make the thorough investigation that the authorities seem to have neglected, possibly due to the influence of the cult's leader, the Prophet of the Universe.

Cover for 'Thomas Knapp and the Prophet of the Universe'I found Knapp enigmatic and everything a good PI should be, complete with a range of vices and a surrounding cloud of cigar smoke. We see events unfold through Aisha's eyes and our view of him is no doubt coloured by her perceptions as a slightly naive, somewhat lost individual. She is an interesting character, brave enough to leave her husband and family and still maintaining a strong Muslim faith.

The foundations of the story and the concept were promising, but the delivery let this book down. In places the pace lagged as Aisha described things that really didn't impact the plot or characterisation, and it was at times heavy on tell rather than show so I occasionally found my interest drifting. What was more distracting though was the typos. Confusing "whose" and "who's" and "your" with "you're" is one of my bugbears. There were mispellings, repeated words and other issues to the point I found it irritating. These issues could all be dealt with via a good edit, and the author tells me that he has now hired a second editor to go through it with a fine tooth comb.
I found myself left with a number of questions about elements of the story, which will no doubt be gradually answered in upcoming stories. Despite the issues I had with this book there was enough positive to tempt me to take a look at the next installment. 

Format: E-book, review copy
My Rating: 2*

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