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Title: What Ho, Automaton!
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #1
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
From the Publisher
What Ho, Automaton! chronicles the adventures of Reggie Worcester, gentleman consulting detective, and his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, Reeves.
Reggie, an avid reader of detective fiction, knows two things about solving crime: One, the guilty party is always the person you least suspect. And, two, The Murders in the Rue Morgue would have been solved a lot sooner had the detective the foresight to ask the witnesses if they’d seen any orang-utans recently. Reeves needs all his steam-powered cunning and intellect to curb the young master’s excessive flights of fancy. And prevent him from getting engaged.
The book contains two stories set in an alternative 1903 where an augmented Queen Victoria is still on the throne and automata are a common sight below stairs.
What Ho, Automaton! – an 8,000 word novelette of how the two met.
Something Rummy This Way Comes – a 41,000 word novella chronicling their first case. When Reggie discovers that four debutantes have gone missing in the first month of The London Season and, for fear of scandal, none of the families have called the police, he feels compelled to investigate. With the help of Reeves’s giant brain and extra helpings of fish, he conducts an investigation that only a detective of rare talent could possibly envisage.
Mystery, Zeppelins, Aunts and Humour. A steam-powered Wodehouse pastiche.
Oh my! This hit my Wodehouse funny bone perfectly. This is a parody of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves & Wooster series and I’m not sure it would really work if you’re not familiar with the original. However, I AM familiar with the original and this send up had me in stitches. If you’re not familiar with English English (as opposed to Real American English) Worcester is pronounced almost the same as Wooster, so even the names are a great parody.
This is not a timeless classic. But it is a boatload of fun and had me laughing out loud. It reminded me of my reaction to the first couple of Jeeves books. And since there are only four books in this Reeves and Worcester series, I don’t have to worry about going overboard and burning out on the humor (which is pretty much what happened to me with Jeeves, too much in a row).
The steampunk side of things was handled very lightly so it didn’t overwhelm the story but it had some big intrusions (the Queen is a cyborg and the Germans are trying to replace British royalty with robots) so if steampunk is your thing, this should fill that itch.
The only reason I’m not giving this 5stars is because there is one rather “swishy” character that really toed the line but didn’t cross it and a rather crude sentence near the end about body parts.