May I be so bold as to recommend for holiday gifting or your own personal perusal the second installment of what we hope will be many of the strange adventures of Matthew Hunter, antique book dealer, and his pistol-packing companion Chantal Stevens from the creative and slightly warped mind of long-time Nevada libertarian philosopher and writer Vin Suprynowicz, who spent a couple of decades penning frequently non-fiction newspaper columns and editorials for the Las Vegas newspaper.
“The Miskatonic Manuscript,” novel, available for the first time today, picks up where last year’s “The Testament of James” left off. The book dares to imagine a world in which New England horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s work was as much science as it was fiction and in which someone is actually fighting back in the War on Drugs. Think of it as Robert A. Heinlein meets Jules Verne and Carlos Castaneda.
As in “Testament” the characters are quirky, literate and irreverent, engaging in dialogue that weaves in libertarian and free market ideals, dropping names like Hayek and Rothbard from the lips of a savvy chauffeur.
Where “Testament” was more of a mystery, “Manuscript” is action/adventure.
Without giving away too much, try to image a dimension hopping duo — as in Heinlein’s “Number of the Beast” in which 666 was the number of dimensions or alternate realities, as in six to power of six to the power of six.
Image one of the dimensions is populated by menacing prehistoric creatures and rather primative people, as in Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” but the navigation requires more than mere machines but also tweaking of the mind with assorted cacti and fungi as might be used by Castaneda’s Don Juan in his quest.
The humor can be a bit subtle, such as when in the middle of an otherworldly scene wrought with imminent danger from the aforementioned prehistoric beasts in another dimension Chantal sarcastically asks Matthew if he has seen any armed gorillas on horseback, to which the inveterate book dealer replies, “No, that was ‘Planet of the Apes,’ Pierre Boule, a six-hundred-dollar first edition if the orange print on the jacket spine isn’t faded too badly.”
A favorite scene of mine has a “reporter” interviewing a long-time architect of the Constitution-bending laws used in the War on Drugs, revealing step by step the gradual encroachment on civil rights.
Vin managed to snag for the dust jacket an illustration from Boris Vallejo, who has made a career of depicting well-muscled, scantily clad heroines for fantasy and science fiction novels. This one, shall we say, befits the genre.
On page 214 he mentions the opera house in Eureka, so that makes it a Nevada book, right?