“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” – Terry Pratchett
Author Paddy Bostock’s novel ‘The Basque Head Case’ brings back Jake Flintlock and Dr. Bum Park, the famous private investigator duo from London. When an incident involving a severed head threatens to snowball into an international event, the PI duo are put under the spotlight. Their investigation takes them on a whirlwind tour of Spain to try and solve the mystery. And when the threats get personal, these detectives have to deduce and punch their way out of the new case.
Jake is the brain behind the operation, he is the thinker, the one who has mastered the art of deduction, or at least he thinks that way. Jake for the most part appears as a wiry and nervous fellow hiding behind a calm façade. And he lives by a standard set of PI rules usually found in fiction while conducting his investigations. He also has this underhanded sense of humor that he puts to good use whenever he feels neglected or left out of the action.
Dr. Bum Park is the muscle in the PI duo. He is the beefcake with a well-developed sense of humor. He treats even the most dangerous of situations as a joke. His flirtatious, loud and alpha male character contrasts nicely with that of the slightly neurotic and awkward mover Jake.
The plot, the characters and the setting found in ‘The Basque Head Case’ hasn’t changed much from the previous successful book, ‘Hand In Glove’. Jake’s dog Binkey and his home security system once again plays its part in moving the plot forward and in making the novel an unbridled fun ride.
The book does a good enough job of balancing the serious matter - which keeps the story moving; with the casual and humorous bits. And it’s only when the scale shifts to one end completely that you end up with scenes that are too serious or too humorous. But these are far and few in between and for the most part the book gets the balance right.
The lead characters in this novel are self-aware of the pattern seen in other fiction books involving PIs and have no trouble in flaunting these patterns in an exaggerated manner for hilarious effect. Mr. Paddy has also upped the humor quotient by including plenty of social satire and meta-commentary in the book. Not many books would think of playing with decapitated bodies and floating heads for laughs, but this one does and it does so marvellously. Encouragingly, the jokes don’t stop coming even after the plot obstacles in book are overcome.
In the end, you’re forced to pay heed to every page, marvelling at the ingenuity and cleverness the author showcases here. It is mad fun but it’s also controlled mad fun. It is self-referential and self-aware of its strength and also its weakness and doesn’t shy away from revealing it to the audience either. What makes this book an endearing read is that it doesn't aspire to be anything more than a smart and well-written novel filled with smart mouth humor and memorable characters.
Print Length: 370 pages
Publisher: Wings ePress, Incorporated (February 1, 2016)
ISBN – 10: 1613097522
ISBN – 13: 978-1613097526