I’ll confess I picked this book up because I like the author’s blog. Duncan MacMaster is the proprietor of The Furious D Show, an excellent movie blog. In spite of the handicap of being Canadian, MacMaster writes with authority and wit on the business of Hollywood (though, like so many blogmeisters, he’s been posting less and less lately). But the more I read A Mint Condition Corpse, the more I liked it for its own sake, and the more fun I had.
MacMaster’s knowledge of Hollywood provides a great background for this story, which deals with comics fandom and movie making. His hero is Kirby Baxter, a famous comic book artist who has been out of circulation for a couple years. On the same day he was fired from his job, he won the lottery. After collecting his riches, he fled to Europe. There he got involved in a couple criminal investigations, employing his expertise in reading people’s faces, which he learned from a magician uncle who did a mind reading act. His contributions to police operations earned him honorary status as an Interpol consultant, and the loyalty of a giant Czech former policeman, who became his constant, protective shadow.
Now he’s decided to reconnect with his old friends and fans. He flies to Toronto to attend Omnicon, a huge comics convention. He runs into Mitch, his diminutive, dirty-minded old buddy, and Molly, a fellow artist whom he helped get started in the business. He also meets a supermodel turned actress who has been cast in an upcoming superhero movie and is at the convention to promote it. She turns out to be every geek’s dream – she’s a fan of his work, and sends out clear signals that she’s interested in him personally.
And then there’s a murder. Employing his people reading skills, Kirby assists the police in cutting through a tangle of personal and business motives (here the author’s knowledge of the movie industry adds a lot to verisimilitude), putting his own life in danger.
In description, the plot sounds like fanboy wish-fulfillment fantasy. But what makes A Mint Condition Corpse work is the way the author brings the characters to life and laughs (in an affectionate way) at the quaint customs and mores of the subcultures represented in the story. I really liked these characters, and cared about them. The book worked for me very well.
The dialogue can get a little raunchy, especially when Mitch is talking, but it’s not bad by the standards of thriller literature. I recommend A Mint Condition Corpse, and I hope we see more of Kirby Baxter.