Serious Moonlight (How to be Dead) by Dave Turner

CORRECTION: I said in an earlier version of this review that this book was last in the series. I am overjoyed to learn that it’s not.

 

Publication Date: December 31, 2018

 

Dave Marwood and his girlfriend, Melanie, are due for a bit of a break in the country after saving the City of London from destruction. It’s a bit of a worry that Death, the last standing Horseman of the Apocalypse and Dave’s employer, is having a bit of an existential crisis and Dave has been acting as his flip-flopped toy scythed stand-in, but a relationship needs tending. The break, however; is not the peaceful time away the couple anticipates when they find themselves beset by ghosts and the people seeking them.

Serious Moonlight by Dave Turner is the fifth book in the How to be Dead series.

 

Part of my life’s work is finding books that give me the feeling I got when I first read the works of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Jasper Fforde. The beautiful humor and massive creativity of the aforementioned authors are qualities shared by the great Dave Turner. The wealth of imagination is staggering and the experience of the reader is one of fun and time truly well spent. 

Once again in Serious Moonlight world collide with Dave and Melanie heading off for a weekend break in the country at an inn that touts itself as being haunted. Dave and Melanie are bonding on the drive up when they come across a ravaged animal that spooks them both a bit. There’s always a logical explanation, right? Readers get a lot of relationship-building in Serious Moonlight. We see the playfulness of the characters and a depth to their connection. There’s an intimacy and a natural awkwardness so fitting for both of the people we’ve come to know.

Serious Moonlight takes place in the English countryside with all of the characters that readers of Stella Gibbons novels (Cold Comfort Farm) would expect to see but they all have a surprising edge. The book is cognizant of its Dad humor and is riddled with it. One of my favorite things is the frequent callback to the sinkhole opening in London in the previous Dave book. Very smoothly presented, people offer platitudes while expressing their opinions on how it might have happened. From the start of the book when we join Dave in ferrying a jogger who died of a heart attack, it comes up and it’ss almost seems a relief to Dave to be upfront with someone. He later fights back and urges just to be the one who cracks the world and the reality of their strange life. He’s living and in that moment, and readers will just feel his pain bonded by this journey we’ve all been on together.

The How to be Dead novels are technically novellas but there are no shortcuts in Turner’s work. The stories are whole, realized and as resolved as installments in a series will be. The flow is beautiful and I can’t speak for anyone else, I am entranced. I recently re-read Four Horseman and it was just as brilliant the first time. More brilliant than the first time as I’m convinced Esuries needs to be a Dr. Who villain.

Serious Moonlight is fifth in the series but can easily stand alone, but you are missing most of the story if you start with this final installment. Start with How to be Dead and read as languidly as you can. Relish them. Cherish them. When you’ve finished the fifth book join us in aching for more.

The sixth book in the How to be Dead series, Near Life Experience will be out soon.

If you’re looking for the perfect Halloween read, pick up the How to be Dead series. If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for the Jasper Fforde lover in your life. If you just want to be entertained, pick this series up today.

 

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Good Omens (2019)

Good Omens is based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and Crowley (David Tennant) are an Angel and Demon who are quite fond of humanity and, grudgingly, of each other. They have had off the books meetings for centuries and have perhaps each influenced the other in a way that their supervisors wouldn’t condone. When Crowley is called upon to deliver the Antichrist, he knows the end is near. The demon and angel agree to each stay close to the child and try to influence him but what happens when it’s the wrong child? And what happens when Heaven and Hell are both willing to do whatever it takes for the ultimate face-off to happen?

 

Neil Gaiman wrote the screenplay and worked in the role of showrunner for the production and it shows. I think this may be the truest translation of novel to screen that I’ve seen. From the perfect casting to joyful irreverence, this show is a pure pleasure to watch. I’ve seen it three times all the way through and have plans to watch a fourth time and am willing to bet that I’ll see a host of things of hidden jokes and sly references. A demon and an angel who have lived long among the humans and developed an affinity for humanity have a crisis of divine purpose vs what they really want. Early on there are two great scenes. In the first great scene, the Archangel Gabriel (Jon Hamm) finds Aziraphale in a sushi restaurant and question why he’d want to foul his mortal shell with ickiness. In another scene, Crowley roars up in his classic car to take delivery of the baby Antichrist and his fellow demons go over their accomplishments in securing souls. Crowley gives this off-hand high tech explanation of his mass frustration of humanity as they stand there dumbfounded. The humor in both scenes is pure Pratchett. Tongue in cheek, setting up the beings with whom we’ll spend the length of the miniseries and highlighting their hesitance to give up the comfortable lives they’ve established.

Good Omens is a complex story. In part it’s about the Prophesies of Agnes Nutter and her descendants carrying on her tradition, in part it’s the story of an impending war between heaven and hell and it’s also part the story of a great friendship of opposites formed outside of the gates of the Garden of Eden as two immortals ponder God’s ineffable plan. Narrated by God herself (voiced by Frances McDormand), it’s a mostly linear story that bounces through time. Aziraphale and Crowley do their best for the little Antichrist but, in the end, their efforts are pointless.

As one would expect from the cast, the acting in Good Omens is outstanding. Micheal McKean as Witchfinder Shadwell is just comic genius. Jack Whitehall as Newton Pulcifer/ Adultery Pulcifer is just probably the best performance this actor has turned out. Sam Taylor Buck as Adam Young (the Antichrist) is convincing in fighting his dangerous side. The scenes with Adam and his group of friends are as interesting as the playful byplay between the more seasoned Michael Sheen and David Tennant. These young actors have great futures ahead of them.

Good Omens is simply amazing. To say too much would involve spoilers. I know that there’s been some backlash against the production because it’s considered blasphemous and, if you’re religious, I’m sure it is but only in the best way. How nice must it be to be so absolutely sure that things that are unseen in life exactly as you think they are. That God is a long-haired white dude and not some cheery lady with an American accent and a sly sense of humor. This is fiction, it’s not literal and I’ve always been of the opinion that if you don’t like it, don’t buy it, but that’s me.  It is tongue in cheek and clever. The rare talent that comes along in literature and thank goodness for Neil Gaimon translating it to the screen because it was the production was just a joy. To see some of the best scenes from the book acted out and exactly as one would have pictured them is just delightful. Agnes Nutter throwing open the door and facing Adultery Pulcifer was just beautiful.  Will there be more? I don’t know but given that Pratchett died after the publication of this first novel, I can’t see Gaiman going back to that well. Gaiman is an author that seems to respect the legacy and as talented as he is, I would think that Gaimon would hesitate to continue without his original co-author’s cooperation.

See Good Omens. See it now. It is wonderful, amazing and fully worth binging over and over.

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The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Publication Date: May 1, 2009

 

In The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, it’s 1985 in the fictional world that is parallel to our own. Someone is kidnapping literary characters. It’s the job of Thursday Next, the occupant of our world but the detective in the Literary Detective Division, to find the culprit and stop them before it’s too late.

 

Every book claims to be like the work of a bestselling author. They’ll up the ante saying that the work is by an author who is the modern version of the author to whom they’re likened. Usually, they could not be less like the author whose name they use to promote themselves. In the case of Fforde, it would be in no way inaccurate to liken him to Douglas Adams. It would also not be inaccurate to say that they are nothing alike. Fforde and Adams share a well-defined imagination with a lightness of being. Their worlds are intricate. Fforde is extremely well-read. The characters created by others in his story are wholly within character. The description of the fictional world is beautiful and complete. Continue reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Dalai Camel: A Bizarre Tale of UnBEARable Bliss & Bewilderment by C.E. Rachlin

Publication Date: February 8, 2018

 

The Dalai Camel by C.E. Rachlin

The Dalai Camel by C.E. Rachlin is the story of a being reincarnated as a camel and searching for enlightenment. The Dalai Camel crossed oceans and continents facing adversity with his band of companions and is shares his story with the world. Continue reading The Dalai Camel: A Bizarre Tale of UnBEARable Bliss & Bewilderment by C.E. Rachlin

Four Horsemen (How to be Dead Book 4) by Dave Turner

Publication Date: January 16, 2018

 

Four Horsemen (How to be Dead Book 4) by Dave Turner

In Four Horsemen (How to be Dead Book 4) by Dave Turner, It’s 1874 and War, Famine, Conquest and Death are called upon to find a little boy from a prominent family. The boy is seen leaving his home with his father, a man who has been dead for three years. In the meantime, Death is doing his day job when he comes across a little girl named Elizabeth that can see him as he’s collecting her aunt and bringing her home. Can the Horseman find out what happened to the boy and the other children who have disappeared and what will they do about Elizabeth?  Continue reading Four Horsemen (How to be Dead Book 4) by Dave Turner

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Season 1 (2017)

DVD Release Date: January 24, 2017

 

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas AdamsDirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Season 1 (2017) is based on Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series. Shortly after Todd (Elijah Wood) finds the body of Partick Spring, a billionaire with a lot of secrets, Holistic Detective Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett) crawls through his window and presses him into investigating the murder. With a holistic assassin (Fiona Dourif) on Dirk’s heels, can he solve the case before he’s swimming with the fishes? Continue reading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Season 1 (2017)

The Frood: The Authorised & Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Jem Roberts

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

 

The Frood: The Authorised & Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Jem RobertsThe Frood: The Authorised & Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Jem Roberts is an examination of the influences and impact of the late Douglas Adams on British comedy, his most famous work, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and his legacy.

Continue reading The Frood: The Authorised & Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Jem Roberts

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Publication Date: June 1, 1991

 

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas AdamsIn Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently is a holistic detective who believes that everything is connected. He sets out to help a man named Richard’s whose girlfriend’s father has been murdered and is convinced that the crime must be solved to clear his own name. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is the first book in the Dirk Gently series. Continue reading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Old Haunts (How to be Dead Book 3) by Dave Turner

Publication Date: September 27, 2016

 

dt_old_haunts

In Old Haunts, Dave and Mel are struggling to get back to a common ground after the events at the end of “Paper Cuts.” With the big bad revealed and his surely devastating plan not clear, can Dave stop the horror that will inevitably descend on London? Death and his office staff, Dave and Anne, are ready to kick this saving-the-world thing into high gear.

Old Haunts is the final installment in the “How to be Dead” series.

 

 

Continue reading Old Haunts (How to be Dead Book 3) by Dave Turner

Channel Blue by Jay Martel

Publication Date: December 1, 2013

 

JM_Channel_Blue

What can a network do if its best-rated show starts to plummet in the ratings? Channel Blue’s highest rated program is a Big-Brother-esque show featuring Earth. When the ratings make it unprofitable to stay on the air, the series finale will be explosive … literally explosive.

 

 

 

Continue reading Channel Blue by Jay Martel