By Paul Kane

Reviewed by Robert Spalding

This book contains two stories of the adventurer and detective Dalton Quayle, as written by his compatriot and partner, the gun loving Dr Pemberton.

The first story is Dalton Quayle's Wet One.

The story is quite a good one, dealing with the rise of sea-people and a creepy seaside town. Unfortunately I had a terrible time making my way through this story and all due to the huge number of punnish names given to the characters. The town is called Outsmouth where locals drink Craftylove's Ancient Irregular; anyone who has read a decent amount of horror should be able to pick up on the references there. If that were all then it would have been a nice nod to his inspiration, but this story doesn't read like that. Instead it reads like an attempt to show you how many books and films the author has read/seen. There is a three page retelling of Robert Shaw's monologue from Jaws after a scar comparison that is a pastiche of Moby Dick, complete with Captain Abrahab and the monster Dopy Mick. With characters such as Island Police Chief Bodey (who later on is referred to as Brodey in a typo), Jacques Custarde the underwater expert, Captain Codeye who exploited children for his brand of fish food, the list goes on. Which is a real shame, because when he's not just playing on names and riffing on other people's stories, Paul Kane is pretty funny. Towards the end of the story everything picks up and barring the occasional distracting pun is great fun.

The problem with all of the puns and plays on names you know is that they are continually dragging out the story. As I say, when they are left behind the story is actually a good, fun read.

The second story, Dalton Quayle Rides Out, is much better. The pun names are mostly left out and when they occur, they are spread out to lessen the distraction.

In this story Quayle goes up against a Chinese Evildoer and genius called Fe-Man-Ho and his Mini-Fe, Fok-Yu. Going from the Chinese district out to the old west, this tale romps along at a good pace, demonstrating the kind of humour Tom Holt praises him for in the introduction. The verbal gags fly quite quickly and Pemberton and Quayle make entertaining heroes.

Overall this book is quite fun. While a humorous Sherlock Holmes type lead doesn't seem all that original, the characterisation of Quayle is such that you'd be happy to read the other adventures Pemberton keeps referring back to.

I only wish that the number of puns and constant references to other books and films was toned down in the first story. For me they aggravated as I was constantly being reminded of who the characters were based on and what particular film or story was being mocked.

But then, humour is very subjective and I'm not a huge fan of puns anyway. If you've found the names I've mentioned herein gave you a chuckle, then you may well enjoy this book.

Dalton Quayle Rides Out by Paul Kane. Ppb, 150pp, £5.99. Published by Pendragon Press, PO Box 12, Maesteg, Mid Glamorgan, South Wales, CF34 0XG.

Website: - www.pendragonpress.co.uk

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