I'm breaking the usual format here and just plunging in from the first review on Accomplice
For the most part, my impressions on Accomplice remain unchanged. In the final two books, it's still as barely-coherent, insane, and darkly hilarious as the first two. The characters, while they become more aware of the situation going on, still remain just as odd and yet somehow compelling, Barny still remains almost as much out of his depth (the final book has him willingly going into something called a "blood shed" and giving his blood willingly for a levy) and accepting of his circumstances, and overall not much changes. Though that might actually be the point.
You see, I'm beginning to get the sense that Accomplice is actually a version of The Divine Comedy where no one notices what's going on, or even cares. The secret underground cadre of demons would suggest that Accomplice is some level of hell, as well as things like the Blood Clock in the center of the city, the rather gruesome levy (and there's the chance that some people with that levy might be giving too much, as seen in the final chapters of book four), and the massive barbed-wire sculpture the incumbent mayor's challenger (the mayor being someone who not only acquiesces to the demons, but also serves their wishes) has to give his speeches in. But despite all the insanity and the nightmarish visuals (the Church of Automata in particular fills me with nonspecific dread), you will still find the heroes dining at the Ultimatum Restaurant or preparing for a picnic in the Infernal Realms.
Adding to this mess is the list of questions in the back that reference angels, demons, and "people outside Accomplice" that seem to place it as either a hell similar to Jacob's Ladder, or some kind of purgatory. Barny's apparent ascension to a higher state at the end of book four merely adds credence to this assumption. Of course, then the reasoning would lead us to believe that all of these people haven't been particularly good but need to be redeemed somehow. The mechanic, Mike, and Barny would be the prime examples of this-- both of them wind up being redeemed...Mike turns into an angel, sort of , and Barny ascends to the point that even after he implodes due to an over-levy, he is still seen and interacts with the other characters, even providing references for jobs they get (meaning that he can still influence Accomplice). Still, the idea that humans set up their own society regardless of the purgatory brewing beneath is a great one, and Accomplice still ranks highly in terms of original ideas
The other thing of note is that the book gets more sinister as it goes along, adhering more to Saknussemm's Progression. For those of you who follow me regularly, Saknussemm's Progression is the process that Kris Saknussemm perfected in which ideas get progressively weirder and the reader gets bombarded by them to the point that they become commonplace, and then weirder, more menacing ideas are introduced so the reader gets even more freaked out. Accomplice is actually doing this, though it doesn't start ramping up until the last two books. While initially it hadn't done this and seemed to be avoiding this kind of thing, it does it simply to change the mood-- yes, everything is still satirical and laughable, but with an increasingly sinister edge. That sinister edge is what changes it. While it's comic fantasy, it makes it more and more difficult to laugh at it, and the environment becomes more and more alien.
While the world of Accomplice wasn't really that much like ours to begin with, as the demons begin to meddle more and more, it becomes a stranger place, a less hospitable sort of crazy and a more dangerous kind. While before Sweeney still dragged people to hell, it seemed to be played for laughs. Things like the Levy, the Church of Automata, and the like are frightening and sinister, but don't seem to be particularly threatening. As it comes together, it becomes funny much in the way of a darkly comic funhouse-- frightening, but somehow so absurd that you continue laughing at it. I have to admit, this is a manner of dark comedy that actually seems to work, neither light enough to be mistaken for straight comedy, nor so dark that it could actually pass for a horror novel.
So in conclusion, Accomplice is still everything I thought it would be. Dark, hilarious, freaky, unsettling, weird, and all together enjoyable. While I can't ever recommend it to anyone, if you liked this, if you liked what I put forward in these reviews, if you like something cerebral, but that allows you to switch your brain off, then Accomplice is the book series for you. Buy it, download it, request it from your library, just don't let this one languish in obscurity. It deserves better.
- Another strange book, but much more conventionally so with The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks, one of the two "starting" books of the Culture Novels.
- Then, after that, a return to the insanity of Kurt Saknussemm with Enigmatic Pilot, the second book in the Lodemania Testament and the prequel to Zanesville
- Jeffrey Ford's Physiognomy
- And, in time for the new Pirates film, I finally get around to reviewing On Stranger Tides.
See you next time!