Saturday, November 7, 2020

Gobbelino London and a Scourge of Pleasantries

Gobbelino London and a Scourge of Pleasantries
by Kim M. Watt
Recommended Ages: 13+

A plague of niceness has broken out in Leeds, England, and if it isn't stopped in less than a day, it could shred the fabric of reality. It's up to a pair of private investigators to stop it, and one of them – indeed, the senior partner in the firm of G & C London – would know about shredding fabric, since he's a cat.

Gobbelino, or Gobs as he hates to be called, and his pet human Callum are just struggling to get by, living and working out of a tiny, tatty office where they would probably starve if it weren't for nice Mrs. Smith across the hall. Currently on his fourth life, Gobs isn't keen to burn through his remaining ones in a hurry, which is why he tries to stay below the radar of the Watch – an organization of feline enforcers that once took justice a bit too far, costing him one of his former lives. One of the after-effects of this experience is that he's terrified to travel through the Inbetween, a void between dimensions where only cats, faeries and gargoyles dare to go – and by the way, always say "faeries" like it's spelled with an e; they can tell.

But keeping your ears clean (or whatever) isn't easy when you and your human partner have a reputation for helping people (and folk) with magic-related problems. This is probably why their current client sends them to retrieve what turns out to be a book of power, which her ex-huband got in the divorce. Before they can collect their fee, however, Mrs. Smith finds the book and unleashes a horrible, multidimensional catastrophe out of a sincere desire to make the world a nicer place. Gobbelino and Callum's building and the city block around it turn rapidly from shabby to posh, then goes way over the top as the kind old lady refuses to give up the book.

By the time man, cat and a few friends finally make their way back inside to deal with the crisis once and for all, existence itself has started to come apart. Besides multiple people insisting that the book belongs to them, there's the problem that the book has grown a will of its own and will destroy anyone and everything to absorb more power. Callum and Gobs are tested to the limits of their strength, among pastel-colored rats, a python, penguins, flamingos, dragons and some of the deadliest predators of the feline family.

It's a furry bundle of fun, full of dangerous magical weirdness and smart laughs. It's told from the point of view of a cat with all the smugness, cold pragmatism and sarcasm you would expect. His relationship with Callum seems to be made up of equal parts snarkiness, disapproval of each other's misguided values and genuine affection. Gobs is a cat who fervently wishes, more than once, that he could roll his eyes. He's a bit mercenary, a bit amoral, a bit disloyal, and more than a bit cowardly. Meanwhile, Callum has his rough spots, among which is a compulsion to correct his cat's (and other people's) malapropisms. He's a bit of a weenie; he reads too much; he smokes too much; he's too attached to his beater car; he's hopeless at talking to women; and he has a history of drug abuse, which apparently ended around the time he rescued kitten Gobs from one of the tentacled horrors from the Inbetween. In spite of it all, they make a great team and turn out, for all their mistakes, to be the right detectives for the job. I, for one, look forward to reading about their next job, too.

This is the first "Gobbelino London" novel. The series continues in A Contagion of Zombies and A Complication of Unicorns. New Zealand native Kim M. Watt lives in Yorkshire, England and is also the author of the "Beautfort Scales" or "Cozy Mysteries (with Dragons)" series, including Baking Bad, Yule Be Sorry, A Manor of Life and Death and Game of Scones. This review is based on a Kindle e-book.

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