Very Important Corpses by Simon R. Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There are times when I just want to read something that is not too complicated or involved. I found myself in that situation after reading and reviewing a few heavy books recently. With that in mind, I took to NetGalley to find a title that had the potential to be fun, light, and just pure escapism without my having to remember 50 characters’ names and houses. I stumbled across Very Important Corpses by Simon R. Green because of the cover mostly. Yes, they say never judge a book by its cover, but this one drew me in for some reason and made me want to read the synopsis. Simon R. Green is traditionally a fantasy/sci-fi author and I had heard of his work before but had never read anything by him. Quickly skimming the synopsis of the book, I saw that it was a supernatural mystery of sorts that took place in Scotland and also involved Loch Ness. I’m a sucker for anything to do with the Loch Ness monster so Mr. Green, you had me at Nessie! I guess you could say there is a degree of ridiculousness to that but there’s a part of me that really enjoys ridiculousness and I won’t apologize for it. In short, if I was looking for something that was solely pure escapism, this passed the test for me as far as the premise went anyway.
As soon as I received the advance reading copy from the publisher, I eagerly immersed myself in the story. Essentially the story is a mystery, but there are so many supernatural aspects to it that it can also be considered a dark fantasy or even horror to a certain degree. Ishmael Jones is an agent who works for a shadowy black ops organization known strangely enough as “The Organization”. Oh, and that’s not all. Did I tell you that Ishmael is an alien? Yes you heard me correctly; he’s an alien and the only survivor of his alien starship crash-landing in southwest England in the year 1963. Did I mention something about being attracted to ridiculousness earlier? But as I said, this is exactly what I was in the mood for and so I kept on reading. As I turned the pages, the story began to take shape and I settled in for what quickly become a very entertaining yarn. Ishmael is charged by his boss, known only as The Colonel, with investigating the murder of one of the Organization’s operatives. The operative was found dead in her room at the historic Coronach House on the shores of Loch Ness while performing security duties protecting the Baphamet Group. The Baphamet Group is a collection of the 12 most influential people in the world who meet annually in such secrecy that their names are only known by the months of the year. The most senior member being December, next senior being November, and so on. What is discussed at these meetings is unknown, but it has been surmised that the Baphamet Group controls and influences the world economy as well as the governments of many countries. Not only has an operative of The Organization been murdered, but it is also revealed that one of the members of the Baphamet Group may have also been taken out and replaced with an imposter for some devious reason. Ishmael embarks on his mission to Coronach House with his partner Penny to attempt to hopefully uncover the dual dead-body mystery. As soon as he arrives; however, it is obvious that not only do the staff at Coronach House not want him there, but the Baphamet Group as well. Good thing that Ishmael doesn’t take no for an answer. Think of Ishmael as Harry Dresden with more cockiness and you’ve pretty much encapsulated his personality. It becomes clear very early on in the book that someone is hiding an extremely important secret from Ishmael and that the murdered operative may have stumbled across a revelation that necessitated her being eliminated before she could speak to anyone about it. The question is, was it a member of the Baphamet Group or one of the many staff members at Coronach House? Couple all of this with a side-story about the Loch Ness Monster and a few other local monster legends, and you’ve got a multidimensional supernatural mystery that delivers on a number of levels.
I really liked Very Important Corpses. It kept me thoroughly entertained for a few nights before bed and I would classify this book as a perfect night time read. It was exactly the kind of book that I wanted to read to scratch my particular itch, so to speak. At just over 200 pages, it was also a relatively quick read. That’s not to say I liked everything about it. I did have some minor quibbles. For one, I thought the main character Ishmael Jones tended to be a bit over-the-top at times. I got a little weary of him constantly getting what he wanted too easily and bullying everybody into submission. I understand that this was probably by design, but it still grated on me after a while. Also, the characters weren’t fleshed out that much which I thought made them a bit two dimensional at times. That being said, neither of these things made me want to put the book down and I was able to set it aside as I approached the final reveal. And what a reveal it was! In the end, I was left very satisfied and this will definitely not be the last Simon R. Green book that I read. I am interested to check out some of his other works because I really do enjoy the way he delivers a story. Bottom line: I recommend Very Important Corpses if you are looking for a fun, scary, and entertaining read before bedtime.
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