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The Clown Service
Guy Adams
Del Rey, 314 pages

The Clown Service
Guy Adams
Guy Adams is the author of the best-selling Rules of Modern Policing: 1973 Edition, a spoof police manual ''written by' DCI Gene Hunt of Life On Mars. Published by Transworld, it has sold over 120,000 copies. Guy has also written a two-volume series companion to the show published by Simon & Schuster; a Torchwood novel, The House That Jack Built (BBC Books); and The Case Notes of Sherlock Holmes, a fictional facsimile of a scrapbook kept by Doctor John Watson.

Guy Adams Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Good, The Bad, and the Infernal
SF Site Review: The World House

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

'A moustache poked its way around my door frame. It was luxuriant, that moustache, you could have painted a wall with it in no time.'
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The quickest of shufties at Amazon's Guy Adams page reveals that he's been a busy boy over the past few years. Not only writing his own fiction, but also re-imaging Sherlock Holmes, and immortalising the wit and wisdom of DCI Gene Hunt, among other works. The Clown Service is a distillation of his interests, and reads like an updated Cold War thriller. Albeit one that has been favourably cross-bred with an alternate paranormal tinted London. Something that is a close cousin to the fascinating corner-of-the-eye visions created by the likes of Ben Aaronovitch and Neil Gaiman. Only, with a more acerbic sense of humour than either of those celebrated luminaries, and the True Brit factor turned up to 11. The Clown Service is the tale a man so out of favour with his boss at Her Majesty's Secret Service, that he finds himself forcibly reassigned to the most obscure among obscure units. This is Section 37, a department charged with protecting the country from preternatural terrorism. Long since written off by the mainstream, the unit has just two full-time employees, counting the new recruit. A slang term for the Secret Service is the Circus, and Section 37 is said to be where they keep the clowns. But is it funny ha-ha, or funny peculiar?

Once in a while, I come across a book that is not only as good as I hoped it might be, but ends up being even better. Quite early on The Clown Service was showing signs that it might be one such novel. The main players are Toby Greene, his new boss, an ex-Cambridge Cold War era spy named August Shining, and the old man's most dangerous enemy, Olag Krishnin. The latter has been dead for decades. Shining knows this for a fact because he's the one who killed Krishnin. Unfortunately, the Russian won't stay dead, and worse still has a plan to launch a heinous attack on the UK, code named Black Earth. The undynamic duo of Section 37 discover this by accident, hearing the broadcast of a numbers station, slowly counting down. Concurrent with this is Toby Greene's introduction to the uncanny world which Shining's preternaturally inclined contacts are able to access. The manner in which this is accomplished and the characters involved combine like the ingredients of a particularly tasty meal, and with equally satisfying results. While there is nothing startlingly original in what is portrayed, I found the subtle explanations and casual realism made for easy credibility. It was no great stretch to believe in the author's half familiar shadow world, inhabited by things that are at their most dangerous when they notice us among them. Also worthy of note was the author's sparing use of time bending technology, which included ideas and lessons that the writers of increasingly poor Doctor Who scripts could learn from. The conclusion, I was delighted to find, came with an interesting twist, and scenes were set for possible future escapades.

The Clown Service is a great beginning to what could become a classic series. Guy Adams has all his pieces in place, and ably demonstrates what he can do with them. If the dark gods of publishing -- and his audience -- so decree. It's a rough cut diamond, made all the better by its imperfections, and was one of my top three reads of the year. I therefore urge fellow enthusiasts of British based SFF to gamble a few dollars or pounds adding it to their collections. Your imagination will thank you later.

Copyright © 2014 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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