No Hero Jonathan Wood: Titan Books, 2014. 381 pp. $7.99. ISBN: 978-1781168134
“It’s the pretty blond that complicates the scene. No question. Pressed up against the side of a building? Check. Life-and-death situation? Check. Significantly more sweat running down my back than really seems appropriate? Big check for that one. And yes, against all likelihood, there’s a pretty blonde by my side. Check.”
Thus starts the adventures of Detective Arthur Wallace in Jonathan Wood’s new novel, No Hero. Wallace is an everyman, despite being a policeman in Oxford, one of England’s fastest growing cities. Wallace thinks of himself as a coward, and there is only one way he keeps himself moving forward when things get rough. He asks, “What would Kurt Russell do?”
This action-packed, gory thrill ride isn’t your normal police story, however. Detective Wallace finds himself fighting the most horrific, tentacle-waving, brain sucking aliens possible, all while working for a covert division within his government. James Bond, our favorite secret service agent, works for MI6. Agent Wallace, as he becomes known, works for MI37â€”a group buried so far under cover as to be invisible.
When I started reading this book, I took it to be a parody of a Hard Boiled Detective novel. The tone was right, the irreverent darkness in the hero’s thought process was right, the fast-paced writing and non-stop intensity was perfect. And in a way, I was right. But I was wrong, too.
This novel has a comic appeal with likable characters who are flawed, despite their enormous skills. The biggest comic relief in this story of is Wallace himself, because despite generally being successful at his job, he is constantly out of his league.
The novel keeps you guessing, and reading, until the well-written ending. All loose ends are tidied up, all questions are answered… and our team is going to be off on their second adventure later this year. So keep asking yourself, “What would Kurt Russell do?”
Image Credit: Titan Books