Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese

Mercury Falls
The author was kind enough to provide me with a copy of this book for review. Within a few short pages, I realized I was in for a fun ride. My only hope was that Kroese could keep up the comedic pace throughout.

Christine Temetri is a reporter working for Harry Giddings' flagship publication, The Banner, a religious news magazine. Her assignments are usually covering apocalyptic pronouncements from nutcase cultists, and the novel starts with her attending the scheduled "end of the world" somewhere in the hinterlands of Nevada. When, as we might expect, the end of the world fails to arrive, she heads back to her apartment in Glendale (CA not AZ), where she finds that it has been vandalized and set on fire. The vandal is a fallen angel, and things just go downhill from there.

After getting her breakfast nook carpet replaced with linoleum (by another fallen angel in disguise), which contains a pattern that creates an interplanar portal, she goes in to the office to deliver an ultimatum to her boss about all the pointless assignments he's been giving her. Seeming to concede, he sends her off to Israel, to cover the Olive Branch War, and interview the Israeli general, Isaakson. Just before an errant Syrian missile destroys the tent where the interview is taking place, Isaakson gives her a locked briefcase and tells her to take it to Mercury. When the missile lands, Isaakson is killed, and Christine wakes up in the hospital, with the briefcase nearby. As it turns out, it's one of the four attache cases of the Apocalypse, War.

Mercury turns out to be a fallen, or maybe just AWOL, angel, who really isn't all that excited about seeing the Apocalypse take place on schedule. Together he and Christine must puzzle out the assassination plots against the Antichrist, Karl Grissom, a 37 year old film school dropout who lives in Lodi with his mother, and save the world from immolation.

This book reminds me of Pratchett at his best, and Kroese does, indeed, manage to keep up the wit through most of the novel. If you like your religion straight, no chaser, you're probably going to find the whole thing enormously heretical, but I laughed most of the way through.

Some bits I found amusing:

From a footnote, "People of a 'scientific' bent have been known to ridicule those, like Harry, who believe unlikely notions such as the idea that the Universe was created in six days, and that the first human being was formed by God breathing into a lump of clay. I should be noted that the latest scientific theories entail that (1) all of the matter in the universe was once compressed into an area smaller than the point of a pin, and (2) life came about when a chance collision of molecules accidentally lined up three million nucleic acids in exactly the right order to form a self-replicating protein."

And when Christine is talking to Harry after finding a backwards swastika in ketchup on her kitchen floor,
"'Did you hear what I said?' Christine asked tersely. 'Dyslexic Nazis vandalized my condo.'
'Oh!' exclaimed Harry. 'I thought you said...' He trailed off as he realized that he had most likely misheard her again."

In a "helpful" explanation of multiple planes (dimensions),
"It might be more helpful to think of a plane as a sheet of paper that is rolled up as a cylinder, and then stretched out like a garden hose. And then, ah, tied up with several thousand other hoses, crushed flat again, crumpled up like a tissue, and then had holes punched in it at various places. And then the holes are filled with, oh, say, macaroni."

During a tour of the Infernal Plane,
"'Quite the operation you have here,' observed Christine.
'Nine hundred thousand Corruption Representatives,' said Nybbas proudly. 'The result of an eight-hundred year job retraining program. Most of these CRs were performing unskilled demonic activity only a few centuries ago,' he said, gesturing broadly."

Speaking of Lucifer's rival, Tiamat,
"He's had her doing his grunt work down there for the past two thousand years. Spreading plague, burning witches, breaking up Van Halen..."

And, finally,
"I think I've figured out a way for everyone to live happily ever after."
"Well, most almost everybody. And not so much happy as only mildly disgruntled."

Forgive my extensive quoting, but rest assured the whole book is filled with crazy stuff like these. I'm passing this copy on to selected friends to read next.

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