Nev Fountain wouldn’t have necessarily been the first person I would have expected to have written a classic mystery novel. As far as I’m aware, his main achievements in the past have been in radio comedy, although he came to my attention by writing two of the finest audio adventures in Big Finish Productions of Doctor Who. Both Omega and The Kingmaker, starring Peter Davison, are two of my favourites in the range and both very clever twist-filled stories that play with the expectations. So when Big Finish announced they’d be publishing three mystery novels written by Nev, I couldn’t resist.
The set-up of the books is designed to appeal to science fiction fans – Mervyn Stone, the reluctant detective of the books, was the script editor of Vixens From The Void, a sci-fi soap opera about a matriarchal society, although this was only so that the show could have as many actresses as possible in skimpy costumes. The show has long been cancelled but lives on in the minds of its obsessive fans.
The first book, “Geek Tragedy”, is set at a Vixens convention and recreates the sheer horror that such a place must be (never been to one and after reading this, never want to), especially from the point of view of a celebrity guest. Nev does have an insider’s view of this, given his partner is Nicola Bryant, Peri from Doctor Who, who must have been through these tortures many times. Needless to say, one of the organisers is murdered and Mervyn decides to investigate.
This is very much a classic style mystery – it seems that, in common with the other books, everything that happens, happens for a reason, but while you might guess the killer, I’d be impressed if anyone could explain everything before it falls into place. On top of that, I think that the motive, which makes perfect sense, is unique in detective fiction.
I am somewhat curious as to whether someone with no interest in the genre would get as much of the humour as I do, but while there’s plenty of in-jokes, there’s plenty to make you smile if you don’t get these. First and foremost, this is a top-rate mystery novel which I hope gets the readership it deserves.
If you’re in interested, then here’s the link to buy the book – the paperback’s out early next year.