Robert Kroese has a marvelous sense of humor and Mercury Falls is perfect. I’ve read a couple of his other books, Starship Grifters and The Dream of the Iron Dragon. They are good books, but for humor, this is much better. As a side note: The Dream of the Iron Dragon should be up for a Dragon Award at Dragon Con this year. (How many Dragons can I put into a sentence?)
Years of covering the antics of End Times cults for The Banner, a religious news magazine, have left Christine Temetri not only jaded but seriously questioning her career choice. That is, until she meets Mercury, an anti-establishment angel who’s frittering his time away whipping up batches of Rice Krispy Treats and perfecting his ping-pong backhand instead of doing his job: helping to orchestrate Armageddon. With the end near and angels and demons debating the finer political points of the Apocalypse, Christine and Mercury accidentally foil an attempt to assassinate one Karl Grissom, a thirty-seven-year-old film school dropout about to make his big break as the Antichrist. Now, to save the world, she must negotiate the byzantine bureaucracies of Heaven and Hell and convince the apathetic Mercury to take a stand, all the while putting up with the obnoxious mouth-breathing Antichrist.
This is a humorous comedy of manners in the same vein as Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. There aren’t a lot of good guys and almost no bad guys, just a lot of guys who work for other guys who are unfortunately involved in destroying the world. The hero and prime mover is Christine, who is fairly haphazard as an apocalypse reporter (or a hero for that matter). She doesn’t really seem to grasp reporting, and is understandably burned-out with her single subject matter assignments. She gets her first good assignment and promptly blows it…eh…literally getting blown up. Somehow, this results in her deciding to meet Mercury, rescuing the antichrist, and becoming a prawn in greater war between Heaven, Hell, and pretty much everyone else. (Yes, absurd use of words are a constant feature in this novel.)
I managed to like Christine right off the bat, despite her burn-out, so I got engaged. The story tries to throw you with a lot of side-action and footnotes, but they are just window dressing for the plot and humor. As an example, you’ll feel better for remembering Don, from Don’s flooring, but he isn’t exactly central to the action. Some minor characters will turn out to be central, but … not much of a complaint… they aren’t well enough developed later to matter much anyway. The story focuses on the main three characters and doesn’t much drift.
The humor is constant and terrible. If you hate bad puns, silly word play, and absurd situations, well, not your novel. I’m a fan of those things, so it worked out well for me. Also, they blow up a chunk of California. You may think that this crime against humanity is a big negative, but this automatically adds a star for me. Yes, it’s arbitrary, sue me.
Look, this is a fun book. It is five star fun from cover to cover. In Grifters, I didn’t end up liking his main characters, which distracted from the fun. In this novel, I ended up liking everyone, villains and heroes alike. There is a lot of heart in the novel, you’ll enjoy it. I’m giving it five stars and recommending it to anyone who likes a bit of silly in their day.