Publication Date: January 13, 2016
The Slaughtered Virgin of Zenopolis by David Blake features a throwback humor that smacks of the zany comedy of British films in the 1960s. Detective Capstan is a straight man in a world that no longer makes sense. Recently transferred to Bath, he meets young Becky Phillips when she helps some addled criminals in a bank robbery gone nonsensical. The Slaughtered Virgin of Zenopolis is the first book in the Inspector Capstan series.
I received this book in exchange for my review by the TBC reviewer’s group on Facebook.
There is nothing logical about “The Slaughtered Virgin of Zenopolis.” A tour group finds a dead body in a museum and is convinced by Becky Phillips, a woman with multiple jobs, a tight schedule and a great need for lunch to turn a blind eye to expedite her schedule. When she arrives at her next job, Becky happens upon a robbery, lunch still unconsumed, so helps to hurry along the somewhat bumbling crew and when the police question her about the encounter has an attitude of “what was I supposed to do?” The attitude of the character is so ridiculous that made into a short sketch it would fit perfectly in between the Ministry of Silly Walks and the Lumberjack Song. Detective Capstan in the straight man to Becky’s matter of fact nonsense. He is shocked, a bit appalled and also a bit turned on by the young woman (which, I will say, does go to a bit of a creepy place). Will Capstan catch the madness?
Blake’s pacing at the start of the novel likely as a result of the need to adjust the reading audience to a pack of characters that don’t act as rational people might expect. As the story progresses and the main characters meet, Blake’s narrative voice levels and readers are able to sink into the piece with Capstan acting in place of the audience in a world gone mad. While a humor I would usually embrace, I will admit to taking my time to settle into the work. The comedy is forced at times and the reaction of both characters to certain situations is, to be frank, stupid. It’s well written and the characters well fleshed out but, at times, the joke went on too long for me. Most of the characters are like the little oysters waiting to be eaten in the story Tweedledee and Tweedledum tell in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (The Walrus and the Carpenter).
The Slaughtered Virgin of Zenopolis is a work geared for a very specific taste. If the Pythonesque contrarian humor floats your boat you won’t often see it as well done in fiction as Blake manages. If you’re someone who requires their characters to behave in a way that anyone would be faced with a situation, The Slaughtered Virgin of Zenopolis is really going to stretch your suspension of disbelief. In the end, the story is as logical as any story like this will be but the level of slapstick and humor is level expert. Becky will infuriate and entertain you and Capstan comes off as rather authoritarian in comparison. The Slaughtered Virgin of Zenopolis is an easy and enjoyable Friday evening read. I hesitate to compare the author to Jasper Fforde because the content is so different but the humorous spirit is the same.
If you’re looking for humor that is just purely joyful nonsense, pick The Slaughtered Virgin of Zenopolis up today.
Read an excerpt and buy The Slaughtered Virgin of Zenopolis by David Blake on