Very Bad Deaths
Reviewed: January 30, 2008
By: Spider Robinson
Publisher: BAEN Books
316 pages, $10.99
“I was fifty-four years old the first time a dead person spoke to me.
Wouldn’t you know it? It was the wrong one.
“To be fair, he did manage to save my life,. Just for openers.”
Russell Walker is ready to die when his old college buddy, who is supposed to
be dead, arrives at the door of his Heron Island writer’s office, a former
pottery shack that is just behind his house. He’s been spending a lot
of time there because he can’t stand to be in the house. It hold too many
memories of Susan, his recently deceased wife of 32 years.
Zandor “Smelly” Zudenigo is, it turns out, not dead. He’s
just a recluse. The reason for that being that he is a telepath with no “off”
switch on his receiver. He simply can’t stand to be around people. This
is also how he got that nickname, which is Spider giving us the most novel way
I’ve ever read for some who needs to keep the world at arm’s length
to solve that problem.
Russell, who shares some aspects of his creator’s life, is a tall, skinny
guy, a writer who produces a regular trends column for the Globe and Mail. He
is the only person Zandor has ever formed a close relationship with - they were
college roommates in Olympia, New York - and the only one he can share his big
Zandor has inadvertently read the mind of a serial killer. He doesn’t
know the man’s name, but he does know what he has done and what he is
planning to do, and he knows he has to find some way to prevent it.
Russell is ill-equipped for this task, so much so that he enlists the help of
a frustrated female police officer, Constable Nika Mandiç. Their search
for the killer is both comical and tense, and the resolution to this particular
case is one of the weirdest you can imagine, although it makes perfect sense
when it happens.
This SF-mystery was a good read, and there’s a hint that Spider may have
another of these in mind. I’d certainly be interested in reading it.