As I’m currently wending my way down the road of traditional publishing, my appetite for books of all stripes grows voraciously. So when Laurence Timms told me about his new book RULE ZERO – a “darkly comic fantasy thriller” – it sounded right up my alley!
It follows Harry Bacon, a shady man from the depths of the Ministry of Defence, previously leading a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and now largely mothballed. But when experiments from his past start exploding all over the place, and his friends use their dying words to warn him, he is dragged back to adventure, recruiting unlikely allies to stop a mission of revenge.
The style reminds me greatly of Jasper Fforde (The Eyre Affair, etc.) and it has the same irreverent approach to the status quo, though it is nominally a universe similar to ours. The novel uses gateway characters to good effect, using folk with no idea of this topsy-turvy underworld or those with only a toe in the water to draw the reader in.
The characters are brilliantly realised and, though you’re never entirely sure who’s on the side of right, you feel for every one of them. From the lifestyle journalist out of her depth to the genetic super-powered wonderboy, they are very human – they react to crisis in exactly the way you hope you wouldn’t, but know deep down that you would.
My only reservation is how on earth he can follow it in the next book, considering what the whole debacle did to London. But Douglas Adams wrote four and three-quarter books after the total destruction of Earth, so I’m sure Laurence will find a way!
If you like Fforde or Adams or a bit of Pratchett, I think this book is for you.
You can find Rule Zero for Kindle at Amazon and there’s a free edition in all ebook and online formats at Smashwords. There is also a free PDF edition at rulezerobook.com!
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