You might think that reviews are not my bailiwick, but a survey of this blog-thing will show that I have reviewed books, films, and of course, television.
Mercury Falls is the first in a series by humor writer Rob Kroese, whose day job is as a pastor. In an interview, when asked his greatest influence, he starts off with the Bible, but corrects himself to say Douglas Adams.
Hence, my review of this tome must start with a disclaimer: I am an atheist. Not only am I an atheist by choice, I am an atheist by upbringing. I know not the Lord’s Prayer. I have only glanced through the Bible. (Not enough descriptions of the clothes, for one thing.) The longing for spiritual meaning is to me as foreign as wanting to be a contract lawyer. And I have never read Douglas Adams, either. So if you are a big fan of those books, you might want to stop right here.
Since Mercury Falls assumes knowledge of the Bible and Christianity, quite a bit of the story was perplexing. Was there supposed to be higher meaning to the organizations and conflicts therein? Some organizational principle that this reviewer simply didn’t know? Perhaps. It is an entertaining read, but pour moi, often confusing. However, Kroese has a quick wit and a way with dialogue that pulled me through.
Imagine, if you will, that the Apocalypse is nigh. And nigh. And nigh. That is the hamster wheel career of reporter Christine Temetri. The unlucky lass covers apocalyptic cults for The Banner, a religious publication. The hitch is that the Apocalypse never shows up. And Christine is getting End Times burn-out.
As she is about to quit, her editor gives her an assignment that leads her to Gabriel Mercury, an angel who has gone rogue. He has forsaken the task of arranging the end of humanity for beer, ping-pong and Rice Krispy treats. (I heartily agree with him.) While Christine remains a bit of a cipher throughout, Mercury is engaging (at one point he compares the Apocalypse without the Antichrist to "The King And I without Yul Brynner"). The most entertaining participant, for me, is the petulant Antichrist, Karl Grissom. Up until the start of his reign, Karl has been living with his mother and playing videogames. The latter is excellent preparation for being the Antichrist, as far as your devoted epistler is concerned. This is an up to dateArmageddon. The Four Attaché Cases of the Apocalypse have been loosed. A reference to the Attaché Case of Death made me laugh out loud.
Part of the opening set piece, a small-time cult leader invoking the Bridegroom with the help of some local girls as the Ten Virgins, is very funny. As is the assassination attempt on Karl’s life in front of a restaurant giving out free cheeseburgers. But the plot is absolutely Byzantine. The opening set piece was only part of a long chapter, most of which could be distilled down to a few sentences. Angels and devils all abound, and linoleum figures into the story as well.
The writing is witty, but Kroese needs to overcome a fondness for an overly-jokey, self-congratulatory style. And footnotes. The latter seem to be more for the author’s entertainment than the reader’s. The ending of Mercury Falls is abrupt, as if the novel had run out of ideas. Heaven knows this novel has ideas aplenty, pardon the pun And the last chapter is…well…annoyingly self-indulgent. Its main purpose is to deflect any criticism of the story being too dense, too long, and having footnotes.
But if you are a fan of Douglas Adams and writers of his ilk, this book may well be your cup of myrrh. Kroese is a writer who needs an editor to pare down his text and thereby polish his wit.
You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/Mercury-Falls-Robert-Kroese/