The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
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When Angry Robot tweeted about this book a few weeks ago, I jumped up and down in excitement and was delighted when I got a NetGalley ARC. The idea of a detective in a dream-land of ideas and stories? Gold. And the detective is a fluffy Triceratops, greatest of the dinosaurs?

I was, and am, actively jealous of Tyler Hayes for having the idea first.

What I didn't know at the time was that the book is written in present tense, which would have cooled my excitement no small degree. That's my one big irrational turn-off and its quite possible my lack of connectionTake it as you will.

Hayes dreamland - the Stillreal - is a cool place. It's like Toy Story meets Sandman. It is also a big place, ranging from kids' toys to conspiracy theories and everything in between. Detective Tippy covers most of it and between that and the need to lay down the logic of the Stillreal, a lot of The Imaginary Corpse is taken up by exposition. Sometimes I actively cheered that choice. Sometimes I felt a little let down; not everything about the Stillreal excited me, which is likely with such a big palette being used.

Either way though, the size of the setting impacted the story itself. Tippy's investigation is straight forwards and there wasn't much of a subplot, with Tippy staying focused on the case. The case itself seemed to be as much about the setting as anything, being more Howdunnit than Whodunnit or Whydunnit. And while that is cool, I think the lack of Who and Why led to a loss of hook in story and in development of the characters. I enjoyed reading about Tippy, Miss Mighty, Spiderhand and all, but none of them are characters I'm gagging to read about again (although a book about Miss Mighty and Doctor Atrocity squaring off would be good value).

Tone wise, it's a slightly dissonant blend between the classic gumshoe "Tough Guy with a Big Mouth" narrator and Disney-esque Power of Friendship moments. The first half of that didn't quite work for me and I think that's partially on a lack of situations to work his big mouth on, but the emotional moments hit home, particularly near the end. But then, when looking back, I see that I liked this story most when it was about the crazy place called the Stillreal and less when it was a detective story. So that might be why.

All in all, The Imaginary Corpse is (for me) one of those books that tries to do everything and has a lot of near-misses on the satisfaction count as a result. It is a pleasant read, but doesn't achieve the sort of hyper-fun romp you get from the best Fantasy Detective stories as a result. But all the elements are there where it will be that romp for someone who does connect with Parsons on what he tries. And there'll be a lot of people who enjoy The Imaginary Corpse simply because it tries something new and larger than life even if they don't enjoy everything in the book. After all, I did, and that's with one of my most hated narrative choices in there.

So if anyone's looking for something different, something whimsical and imaginative and fun, step this way.

(I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley from Angry Robot in exchange for an honest review - thanks peeps!)
 

tinkerdan

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It's a debut novel...not yet released..and projected e-book price of 9.99 which is more what I usually pay for a paperback book and a lot to ask for an e-book from debut author.

No sample yet available--however for debut works I will wait for the sample of his work to find out if it reads well.
Thanks for the info though.
 

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
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It's a debut novel...not yet released..and projected e-book price of 9.99 which is more what I usually pay for a paperback book and a lot to ask for an e-book from debut author.

No sample yet available--however for debut works I will wait for the sample of his work to find out if it reads well.
Thanks for the info though.
I wouldn't be surprised if the kindle price drops as that's high for Angry Robot and Amazon does weird things sometimes - but maybe it doesn't. I hope it does for his sake because as you say, its a lot for an e-book from a debut author.
 
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