Duckett & Dyer Dicks for Hire, by G.M. Nair. https://ds-df.com/. 2019. ISBN 978-1-7338943-1-9.
Michael Duckett is fed up with his life. His job is a drag, and his roommate and best friend of fifteen years, Stephanie Dyer, is only making him more anxious with her lazy irresponsibility. Things continue to escalate when they face the threat of imminent eviction from their palatial 5th floor walk-up and find that someone has been plastering ads all over the city for their Detective Agency.
The only problem is: He and Stephanie don’t have one of those.
Despite their baffling levels of incompetence, Stephanie eagerly pursues this crazy scheme and drags Michael – kicking and screaming – into the fray. But they find that they are way out of their depth when they stumble upon a web of missing people that are curiously linked to a sexually audacious theoretical physicist and his experiments with the fabric of space-time. And unless Michael and Stephanie can put their personal issues aside and fix the multi-verse, the concept of existence itself may, ironically, no longer exist.
Before we begin Notes: Might I just suggest reading the copywrite clause? Like, no, seriously, read the copywrite clause. That sets things up early. Let alone the ‘quotes’ on the back cover copy. There is no Table of Contents. Chapters are short and numerous. There are few different font usages, along with italics, and sentences of all Caps, which for people in the texting era, might come across as yelling at first glance. That, and there is short gap areas between each paragraph, for those who are peculiar about that sort of thing.If you are reading the paperback of this, oddly, the left hand page number is at the head of the page, toward the spine valley, rather than on the fore edge. The right hand page leaves the page number on the outer fore edge at the head where it is common practice to see it.
Prologue/So This is How It Ends – Introduction to Stephanie Dyer and Michael Duckett in an odd spot of jumping through Looper and Steins;Gate in a space time continuum with that cheesy bit of ‘I need to do this alone’ trope that you know is always going to end very badly, as stated at the beginning of the prologue. I’m still between comma correct usage on if it is supposed to be a period when an action follows a quote or if it can be a comma when an action follows a quote. This one seems in favor of utilizing a comma in a spoken quote with a followed action. To each their own. I still do this, so I’m not judging, but I see you on the other side of the computer screen, yeah, you know who you are, that will cuss about this. You’ve been warned. It’s in this book. Alright, now why is Stephanie having to die? Looks like we’re in a ‘beginning at the end’ story.
Chapter 1/Hot Date with Destiny – Proper introduction of who Michael Duckett is as the MC. Intro a decent smattering of self-depricating, sarcastic, if not out right dejected humour heavily utilized by the Millennial generation in recent fiction creation. (I am quite partial to this method of writing. I do realize this is not everyone’s bag, hence, I mention that I will be speaking with bias in favor of this style.) Intro a love interest. Intro job and company. The dry conversation of small talk. Oh, hey look Terri actually asks Michael out. This is a nice change of pace, along with there having been accredited time to provide the reader with some concept of time the two characters took in getting to know one another. Now that the MC is thoroughly rendered stargazed, lets intro the main premise of the story with a counterpoint to the demure, but well natured love interest…wait a minute…sigh. Okay. Crazed angry woman vs. beautiful flirty woman. Uh. Anywhosals. Moving on. This leads up to an intro of his own roommate’s character, by which we mean morals and the hopelessness the MC feels with dealing with her. Chapter wrap: Michael schedules a date with a cute girl, get’s confronted by a woman needing a detective, and realizes his roomate is doing stupid shit again. *After a week of thinking on it, what other method was there going to be for counterpointing the two individuals. The anxious MC wasn’t going to go for a full on abusive dom, right? I’ve made my peace with the Laundry girl is beautiful and nice, the lady at the car was frazzled, and the MC didn’t know how to handle the bizarre situation any better than he did.*
Chapter 2/Duckett & Dyer: Angry Greek shady scum tenant landlord withe unpronouncable name unprovided until the next page…well aren’t those a bunch of sitting stereotypes. Not sure all the Greeks reading that line are going to be happy about that one. This does provide the mental construct of the character’s opinion on the landlord, which may swing towards race stereotype dependent. We turn from the musings of a rundown five story walk up to an intro of Stephanie as a character, who after a couple paragraphs sounds like the presentation of female ADHD symptoms and should have been issued a therapist early in life. (Side note, if you go look up the landlord’s name Dupopolous and Dupopoloos, google spits back out literally three results, and one of them is this book, so yes, most likely a made up name.) Hold up, we’re trusting the lifelong friend with no aspirations or job sense to actually get a date reservation because she knows a guy who can score Michael and Terri some extra breadsticks? Yo. Seriously. This is so many red flags of it ain’t happening and there will be following depression, anxiety, embarrassment, a breakdown of friendship, and set up for a story of weirdness to follow. Sometimes, these types of friendships need to be distanced for the mental health of both parties, or for at least the one looking to do more with themself than mooch. I digress.
Chapter 3/High Voltage – Intro the detective and the quarry. Decent pacing. A bit of internal character conflict. Not a lot of set up to engage outside of quick slapdash scene of good guy after bad guy with an interloper. I can see this heavily sepia and just a touch of Sin City color toning.
Chapter 4/The Best Laid Plans…(Well, “Best” Is Generous) – So, send the co-worker you don’t like to talk to the woman you do like’s brother in the company. This feels safe. Oh, hello, anxiety, yes, we’ve circled back around to my initial question of “Wait, you’re trusting the friend/roomate you don’t quite trust to do anything, to get the reservation you do need for all your romantic plans to go according to some hopeful plan?” At this point, we have introduced at least three characters of varying backgrounds to fit a diverse cast, and it appears that the MC is not happy with any of them. And we’ve circled around to the typical things in a day that cause anxiety. Coworkers, other peoples BS that they should learn to handle for themselves, and the angry lady who still hasn’t taken no for an answer. Awesome. I feel like I have anxiety issues now. That building nausea agitation I get watching romcoms and sitcoms. At least the book is eliciting an emotional reaction of comradery with the MC.
Chapter 5/Back in Business – Swing back to the detective and the admittance that he is a drunk detective. (Are all detectives in books drinkers? I’m trying to think of any noir style crime novels I’ve read recently where the MC detective was not a drunk.) >_> About to slam this detective into next week if he calls the CSI woman a kid or a girl again, but at least he recognizes that she’s more competent than the other guy working with him and assigns her to his task force, so that’s nice.
Chapter 6/Dinner for None – Bad date just go worse, or no date at all. Oh, and there’s that nagging back of the mind friendship is falling apart bit. Yeah, this book works out for emotional build up.
Chapter 7/Rent Control – We’ve added an extra po to Dupopopolous. Angry landlords. Just what one needs to raise the blood pressure after wanting to throttle your roomate. *And this is where you go check your bank statements and have the bank tell you where the money is, not just rush headlong into everyone needs to get a job. Legal processes. They save butts. Who knows, maybe the scummy landlord does have the money and is just threatening more. There’s just cause there to take him to court. I’m just saying.*
Chapter 8/Kicked in the Teeth – Well balanced chapter of detective and frustration. Still building up that question of what all these dangling strings have to do with each other. We’ll zoom out to the tapestry in a few pages probably.
Chapter 9/ Ad Nauseam – Ah, the issues with automated messaging and banking systems. At least the MC tried. Sounds like there is still a case of check theft and fraudulent cashing of said checks which should be reported to police and filed. Back to the whole detective agency and crazy roommate and curmudgeon MC who has had it up to hear with life, the universe, and everything. *Why are you even floating this detective idea?* Ah, there’s the disappearing date. Call the damn police already.
Chapter 10/Missing Person of Interest – Off to search the potential girlfriend’s apartment because your spam folder coughed up the fact that she went missing. This is where you call in a well-person check and have someone there to make sure you don’t get your dumb ass arrested for breaking-and-entering. *Why does Stephanie not feel like a full human? I know these types in real life. Slightly tweeky. Just flying by the seat of their pants but there’s no depth to them and you keep asking if they are emotionally or psychologically shallow and how someone can live that way without getting hit by a bus.* Oh good, the doorman understood, so no breaking and entering problems. Oh, hello righteously angry older brother. Yeah, no, I think his reaction is probably right on point there with the MC. Though, the doorman did say they were expected, and is no one going to point out that there is a hole in a seventh floor apartment window for a swanky place? I’d expect that to be concerningly noticed by, I don’t know, a grounds keeper or someone?
Chapter 11/No Case Too Tough – The car scene is definitely in the Twilight Zone, Steins;Gate level of wtf, what is going on, but in a good way. Then we do a scene shift. Meet the first case. Now, if memory serves, after 10 years of a missing person, most frequently the missing individual is considered dead. Oh, hellow Detective, I see we meet again, but this time the whole party is here. Awesome, we’ve got threads twisting together now. Ah there it is, thank you Calhoun, I was wondering when someone was going to mention licenses.
Chapter 12/Back Seat Confidential – Oh, I think Stephanie is coming around. A nice change in demeanor, in a less than optimal way, but this falls into that “scared straight” way. Good dialogue flow, opening of information. Awesome. Wait, we went back to Twilight Zone music and raised eyebrows. I’m liking this story. I have to take it in doses, because I can empathize with the MC’s anxious pessimism, and that can make me want to pace and down a bottle of Tums, but if deeply ingrained emotions of potential humiliation and embarrassment aren’t something you suffer, this all works splendidly.
Chapter 13/No Case Too Crazy – We’ve circled back in a way to the prologue. Alright. Where’s this going? *no longer have no reason on page 102…I’m thinking this is a typo. And another on page 105 of : “Okay.” was . That can be fixed in another edition. But honestly I wanted to stand up and clap for Michaeel finally telling Stephanie to get her act together. Question, was Coach Finster the Middle school or the Elementary School teacher? Oh hey crazy lady from the car, you’re back, and jeez, if I was her fiance, I’d wanna ditch too. Steph calls it on the two needing couple’s therapy at the bare minimum.
Chapter 14/An Affair to Forget – And we go to the motel, instead of the lab. Why would I think starting at the lab would have been a better idea? I think it might be that I’m more trusting of the other party when the first is a cantankerous pushy individual assuming affairs left and right. I mean, radioactive waste? Labs? Come on, he could be dumping stuff from the lab out that way and not having an affair lady. Grant it. Dumping lab waste isn’t legal. My next illogical question. The Garbagemobile. It probably has crap for gas mileage, and they aren’t making rent. Where the hell are they coming up with gas money to get all over town in this hunk of junk? I must say that public transportation sounds a bit more affordable at this rate, if not for the potential calculation of bus pass expenses. Well, affairs with alternative universes are always problematic. Always. Shall we jump in?
Chapter 15/Next ‘Verse – We switched from late summer glow to a stiff autumn breeze…questions. And we’ve changed to Doppelopolous. I’m thinking the name change is actually intentional at this point. So, I don’t think it’s you, my dear reader, it’s got to be there purposefully. Stephanie is starting to consolidate into a modestly respectable individual in so far as to be moderately useful and potentially more than a mooching coach potato. I must state though, there is a lot of breaking and entering going on through out this book and plenty of moments where I’m screaming at the pages going “you are going to freaking go to jail doing this. You said you were done, Michael. Stick to your guns and be done.” I think at this point, the story is well written, so I mean this in no bad way but this is one of those “a train wreck you can’t stop watching.”
Chapter 16/Same As The First – Here comes the sci-fi explanation and if I might insert about fourteen raised eyebrow memes here I would. Not in it being bad, but predictable. The only issue that I have at this point, because Matteo and Dorabel were introduced in this manner is that I’m having an incredibly difficult time not just skipping the next batch of chapters to read the last two, know how this resolves and move on. Probably a pacing or distatchment thing at the moment. We’ll continue.
Chapter 17/A Little Bit Louder – Stephanie and bathrooms. That’s not suspect at all. Oh, hello comp-sci 101, and Python classes. Why must you haunt me. The suppositions in this chapter are great hypotheticals, but it is sort of …slowing the pacing. The examination of how space time rip could look, sound, and act, was fun though. P.S. Gross.
Chapter 18/And A Whole Lot Worse – Ah, the front cover makes a lot more sense at the moment. Guillermo del Toro much. Hand raise: “What is this lsd fest I just fell down?” And a side yell of “Stephanie! Keep your hands to your self for once!”
Chapter 19/Beating Around the Bush – And we swing back for a very quick visit with Detective Calhoun
Chapter 20/Close, But No Cigar – I’m finding it amusing, looking back at all the varying apartments Duckett and Dyer have been in throughout the story, that all the others compared to the initial apartment are sort of ritzy. At first I wasn’t in favor of Steph’s method, but then Jacob showed up and it was a “yes, yes, yes, do it, do it, do it” followed by maniacal giggling. *ehem*
Chapter 21/Thunderstruck – And back to Calhoun. At least we understand now how people keep popping out of existence in front of him.
Chapter 22/Touched By An Angle – hello next acid trip. Im getting weird mix of wild wild west and one of the early episodes of Dr. Who vibes with this one..
Chapter 23/Skies On Fire – and we hop back to Calhoun again. Looks like Steph was busy relieving the universe of a pack of individuals. I have a feeling Michael is going to lose his teeth to acidic overload from puking so many times if this keeps up.
Chapter 24/A Series of Unfortunate Universes – A bit of background and a bit of character development and a bit of rounding out of Stephanie as a whole human being.
Chapter 25/Sage Advice – We finally got introduced to Kiara in a most bizarre way.
Chapter 26/Nightmares of Their Own Creation – Hello del Toro again. This is beginning to go all Time Bandits here. Quick side note. Action sequences help to be disbursed with rest periods for the reader. I feel like I’m on a pretty fast rollercoaster still going up, and it’s a bit uncomfortable.
Chapter 27/Child’s Play– Question – why is the ring operational and not blowing holes in the universe when Finster touches Michael?
Chapter 28/Not The Worst Idea I’ve Ever Had – And we are back to the living room and the armoire once more, with more of an explanation. So, we’ve been here three times now.
Chapter 29/But Maybe It Was The Last – Oh good a bit of breathing room and self-reflection and a guilt trip.
Chapter 30/Goodbye and Good Riddance To Bad Luck – Hey Calhoun, been a while. We’ve just skipped around with time and I’m trying to figure out what just happened, like all the other characters.
Chapter 31/Dawn Of Eviction Day – Calhoun can go F off. Thank you Steph for showing up.
Chapter 32/Dicks For Hire – Hello new digs. It took me until about Chapter 29 to realize that we had gotten past the climax area and were in the other side of the resolution hill.
Epilogue/So This Is How It Begins… – Let’s just not ruin this nice wrap up and say it was good.
That took me a little longer to read than I thought it would, not for the length, but the anxiety induction. If you can’t handle being the MC in an anxious situation, this one will probably have you pacing between chapters. The pacing was pretty good. Some of the plot lines were predictable, but nicely executed.
I thought, for the most part, the inclusivity was done well. The MC and SC were both decently fleshed out. It did feel like it was taking some time to get to that, but by the end of the book, both characters were developed and I found myself emotionally invested.
Would I suggest this book? Yes. Yes I would. I would call this a good book. There were a few minor typos, but I’ve found typos in traditional press books at about the same rate, so it’s par for the course. Otherwise, I can’t think of any distinct criticism I have for the story, the pacing, the rising and falling action. I would say the only thing was feeling like a ball of chaos in the late teens early twenties of the book, but I think that comes with space-time manipulation.
If you want to read it, here’s the links. I’d recommend it.