Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Domino Men-Jonathan Barnes

The Domino Men
Jonathan Barnes
Morrow, Jan 27 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061671401

A century ago Queen Victoria signed a Faustian pack with the devil in which the bill is now due. Back when she made her deal with the Leviathan, opponents who felt strongly the English should resists formed an underground opposition The Directorate secretly fight the monarchy and its evil ally. They managed to incarcerate the malevolence in a temporary “prison”, but the Leviathan is escaping and coming to collect the debt, the souls of all Londoners.

The Directorate needs a champion so they turn to government filing clerk Henry Lamb, a bureaucrat with no heroic qualities except being the grandson of their best undercover operative, who lies in a coma in a hospital. The leadership of the Directorate prays DNA wins out over “tea” and other stifling weapons of mass stupefaction especially working for the government. Henry is bewildered with what is going on as he meets the Directorate chief in the London Eye ferris wheel and is aware of two insane men (Hawker and Boon) dressed as children lurking under 10 Downing Street. All Henry wants out of life is a paltry pay check and his landlady; not battles with an abomination, the House of Windsor and their agents, and his supervisor at rating time. The real hope lies with Henry convincing the enigmatic dangerous Domino Men, who seem only interested in beating him to a pulp, to help the city, but Henry is a lowly bureaucrat not a charismatic leader.

As zany yet different than the Victorian Era fantasy thriller THE SOMNAMBULIST, THE DOMINO MEN is another wild ride, but this time takes place in modern London. The story line is fast-paced from the moment a stranger falls from a window to Henry’s and never slows down yet contains word play and jocular observations about power (always abused), tea (a watered down drug of choice), and heroes (everyday people). The cast is over the top of Big Ben but also make the soul eater seem terrifying even before the arrival. Not for everyone, THE DOMINO MEN is a refreshing humorous contemporary thriller.

Harriet Klausner

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