Thursday, January 10, 2008


Here's how this works: I finish reading something, and I tell you about it, and I try not to bore you to death.

I saw a parody of 24 last month, where Jack and the CTU team attempt to fight techno-crime in the early 90s, dealing with dial-up modems, Prodigy and pagers. I was reminded of that in places while reading this remarkably funny crime story. In Oakland, 1973, the library police have a massive squad of elite officers to combat book theft, and the story behind the triple-locked room disappearance of a priceless Bible on loan from the Smithsonian, with a forgery left behind in its place months previously, initially feels like a particularly clever episode of Banacek, but as the library police close in on their culprit, they're stymied by the technology of the day. Some phone phreaking is assisted by that new touch tone calling feature, for instance.

The characters in this story get very little development - like Adam-12 or O'Hara, US Treasury, they're just organization automatons servicing a complex plot. I found myself wishing for a different take on Bookhunter that's twice as thick, and, like the best detective fiction, allows the characters to take wrong turns and make mistakes, which would both flesh out the plot and let the characters develop. Artwise, I adore Jason Shiga's strangely stunted, Muppet-like characters, and his pacing and storytelling are fantastic. I'd certainly like to see more of his work. Recommended.

(Originally posted January 10, 2008 at hipsterdad's LJ.)

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