The Agonising Death of Waltham Pinchiksnits (Book Review)
4.5 / 5 Stars
Mystery with Sci-Fi Elements
This is one weird-ass book that I really enjoyed. It’s not too weird that it’s hard to follow, but it’s got enough zany plots delivered in a dead-pan way that it feels fresh and unique.
The plot of The Agonising Death of Waltham Pinchiksnits is hard to describe, but there is a strange little town in Northern BC called Faith, where all this weird stuff is happening. A boy trapped in a dream. Two hitmen making mistake after mistake. A detective after a cold case. And a man who helps fate along. Also, an alien.
How did I find this book, do you ask? Well, the author is a super swell guy, in that he hosts a podcast for indie authors called So Long and Thanks for All the Books! He was kind enough to interview me. So, as a disclaimer: He did not in any way ask me to read this (he didn't even mention his own book), nor does his providing me an interview affect my rating.
It starts as seemingly unrelated stories that share some minor details, but you soon see how they are all connected (kind of like Pulp Fiction or Run Lola Run). The best part of this novel is the set-up of twists. The structure is disjointed in a fun way that feels like you’re putting pieces of a puzzle together. At times, I felt like I was a mere half-step ahead of the characters, so when things panned out, I felt like I figured something out, but I was pleasantly surprised when they took a twist.
The novel moves at a quick pace with a lively feel, and there are little funny moments here and there and some surprisingly visceral violence. In truth, the novel reminded me of the Dirk Gently show. (Yes, yes, I will admit I haven’t read the novels. I have read all five of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, so does that at least get me off the hook?) Anyway, this novel reminds me of that show in the best way possible (I adored the show).
We don’t get a lot of time with any of the characters, so they are very surface level, but this suited the story; too much focus on their past or deep motivations would have turned the tone from fun to dark. (Nik was my favorite.)
The police chief was a little cliche for me (a big boy who loves doughnuts). It seemed an intentional joke, that a cliche-fueled Southern police chief is working in Northern BC, but it didn’t really work for me. I did like that he wasn’t incompetent at his job and LGBTQ, but had he been a Northern Canadian stereotype I likely would have landed better with me.
There were a few small things here and there that kept it from being 5 stars for me, so I’m giving it 4.5, but I always lean in favour of the writer, so 5 stars on Goodreads/Amazon it is!
Anyway, this is a zany, fun, exciting puzzle of a novel that keeps you guessing!
Okie dokie doodle!