Book Review: Sherlock Mars, a Light-Hearted Read

If you’re at all familiar with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, you’ll understand me when I say that the world desperately needs another book like it. The wry humor, random and rampant world-building, the characters with awesome names (Zaphod Beeblebrox? Ford Prefect?) and even more awesome personalities all make for a romp of read. I recently read a book—Sherlock Mars by Jackie Kingon—that was similar, and, while I enjoyed it, wished it could have better filled the huge shoes left by its predecessor.

And truly, the Hitchhiker’s Guide, may be the only one of its genre (a very small, niche one) to grow such big “shoes.” It was originally a radio comedy on BBC Radio in 1978, but was later adapted to other formats, including stage shows, novels, comic books, a 1981 TV series, a 1984 computer game, and a 2005 feature film.  A prominent series in British popular cultureThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has become an international multi-media phenomenon; the novels are the most widely distributed, having been translated into more than 30 languages by 2005.

What Sherlock Mars Is About

“Fine dining, virtual reality, and murder,” proclaims the front cover. Molly Marbles, the main character, runs a successful restaurant on a terra-formed Mars. When a virtual restaurant opens next door, offering the experience of delicacies with none of the calories, she’s worried about what it will do to her business at first, but then finds that it’s quite a boon. But then, when the virtual restaurant’s owner is murdered in her kitchen, Molly, amateur detective, cranks into high gear to help the police solve the mystery. While doing that, she also helps plan her pop-star diva daughter’s wedding, keeps her kitchen staff from feuding, and protects her android friend from the humans-only mob. And tries to figure out if the infamous Cereal Serial Killer, who has escaped from prison, has anything to do with anything.

What I Liked About Sherlock Mars

Sometimes it’s really good to read a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously or that even successfully pulls off a joke, pun, or sarcastic comment. For that alone, I enjoyed Sherlock Mars. Consider, for example, this line: “Before I knew him, Trenton had crashed his Porsche-Aquila XXX racing car…and most of his body was destroyed. When he was offered the choice of being a brain in a bottle or becoming the first human android, Trenton chose android and said the choice was a no brainer.”

What Could Have Been Improved

  • The writing could have been less stilted or awkward, in places. Take this sentence for example: “‘I’m sorry,’ a clipped voice that I can’t tell whether it’s a person or a program says, ‘we have no Sol Brody listed.'” It would have been stronger if it had been worded more like this: “I’m sorry,” says a clipped voice that sounds both mechanical and human. ‘We have no Sol Brody listed.”
  • It also could have been edited just a little more. Take this line: “I want see what they did and if I can learn more about Rick.” There’s obviously a “to” missing between “want” and “see.” Not that most people would care about this, but there are enough of those kinds of mistakes that it becomes a distraction.
  • If the plot I described above sounds a bit random, that’s because it is. To a certain extent it’s okay, as long as the central mystery or conflict is kept present enough in each scene to justify its presence. But I found that some scenes just tended to be “fluff,” not really related to the plot but just there for the fun of it.

Who Would Like Sherlock Mars?

Obviously, anyone who likes anything by Douglas Adams should probably buy this book. More probably, though, anyone who likes Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series would love Sherlock Mars. Pratchett was the U.K.’s best-selling author before J.K. Rowling.

Nutrition Facts, Gifs, and Stars

Nutrition facts: really no profanity, sex, or violence.

Gif: really couldn’t tell ya

stars: maybe a six out of ten


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