That’s right, friends, it’s time for another booker review! Last month, we took a look at a twist on urban fantasy tropes in Under Ordshaw (which you can read about here). This month, we’re continuing our participation with a look at Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire by G.M. Nair.
When it comes to fiction, I tend to bounce around between three broad styles – fantasy, “guys with guns” (which covers thrillers, spy stuff like Jack Ryan, and detective things like Bosch), and scifi. That last category surely comes from growing up watching reruns Star Trek: TOS with my dad. So, while I’d put Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire into the generic sci-fi category, it’s not “hard” sci-fi. In fact, it’s a fairly humorous look at some hapless souls who get wrapped up in traveling through space and time.
Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire opens up actually showing us a scene later in a linear storyline (though, time travel is rarely linear), and then jumps “back” in time to show us how Michael Duckett and Stephanie Dyer start off on this adventure. Here’s how the blurb about the book puts it:
Michael Duckett is fed up with his life. His job is a drag, and his roommate and best friend of fifteen years, Stephanie Dyer, is only making him more anxious with her lazy irresponsibility. Things continue to escalate when they face the threat of imminent eviction from their palatial 5th floor walk-up and find that someone has been plastering ads all over the city for their Detective Agency.
The only problem is: He and Stephanie don’t have one of those.
Despite their baffling levels of incompetence, Stephanie eagerly pursues this crazy scheme and drags Michael, kicking and screaming, into the fray only to find that they are way out of their depth. They stumble upon a web of missing people that are curiously linked to a sexually audacious theoretical physicist and his experiments with the fabric of space-time. And unless Michael and Stephanie can put their personal issues aside and fix the multi-verse, the concept of existence itself may, ironically, no longer exist.
That actually short-sells things a bit, in my estimation. When we meet Micheal, he’s a very sort of relatable everyman, stuck in a boring job for a faceless corporation (Office Space anyone?), and has his good friend Stephanie living off of his good graces. And then he randomly has someone come up to him, wanting to hire his private investigation firm. Thing is, they don’t have a firm of that sort, even though the lady shows him an advertisement.
Then they start finding more of those advertisements, and the joke becomes less of a joke. Finally, Stephanie steps in and they take a “case”. Unbeknownst to them, there’s a detective (a real-life police officer, not what they’re pretending to be) chasing down some very weird occurrences happening (folks are going missing near lightning strikes, it seems).
And really, that’s about as much setup as I want to get into, without giving away some of the twists and turns. What I really like that Nair did with Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire is the characterization. For Michael, I totally clicked with his inner monologue, and how he interacted with the world. Stephanie, well, she was immediately identifiable as that nutty friend (if you don’t have one, you’ve seen it in shows and books) that has nary a care in the world, pushing things in crazy directions. They’re real people, with real life problems, and managed to get sucked into this larger (multi-verse-spanning) complication.
Even when they got into trying to grasp with the idea of traveling in space and time, well, that clicked. In many ways, it reminded me of the cafe scene in Looper where Bruce Willis’ character cautions against thinking about it too much, or it’s going to spiral out of control. That said, Nair does introduce some clever constructs into his version of the travel, with some hardware requirements (you’ll have to read the book to get that). Oh, and there’s also a twist for what happens when folks from different timelines meet which, well, Stephanie uses to rather great effect.
I did rather enjoy reading through Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire by G.M. Nair. While it delved into the weightier (and sometimes brain-warping) concept of space-time travel, it was really just a vehicle for the story to ride along and progress, and fading into a support role while allowing Michael and Stephanie to take center stage. Their very normality (they’re not part of super-elite government timecop corps) is what makes the story appealing, and Nair does a nice job of fleshing them out as characters. While the story itself is self-contained, I could see (and would be interested) to see how this world that Nair has built expands out in subsequent installments (spoiler alert: there’s a second volume in Kindle Unlimited I plan to check out).
It’s a fun read, and at just $2.99 for the e-book version, it’s an inexpensive pickup for your device to pass your stay-at-home time. At least, that’s my take. But you don’t have to take my word for it, as Levar Burton taught us. There’s a whole slew of other reviewers taking a look at this book, and you can check out the full schedule right here (tour schedule). Oh, and if you’d like to enter the giveaway they’ve got going for a copy of the book, you can do that right here:
Until next time, happy adventures, dear reader.