The Loving Daylights
Canadian accountant Abel Andretti (hee – that’s giggle number one) comes to visit his sister Edie in Vancouver, only to discover she’s missing. Edie’s friend and neighbor is Jane Spyrus, who works in the engineering and development section of B.L.I.S.S., an international espionage agency with apparently unlimited financial resources. She invents things like vibrators that shoot missiles (excellent for getting through customs) and perfume that acts as a truth serum. Immediately before vanishing, Edie borrowed some of Jane’s tampons. Fortunately, she took the ones with tracking beacons in them. Abel and Jane take off in hot pursuit, along with Jane’s grandmother Maggie (a former B.L.I.S.S. agent, now confined to a wheelchair), Maggie’s dog Tinkle, and Edie’s cat Mr. Tibbs, none of whom could be left behind.
Slapstick goofiness abounds, much of it very funny. The villain of the piece, Dirk Ensecksi, is consistently hilarious. So is Jane’s truth serum perfume. I’m not sure what she had in mind when she put it on, but it has interesting results on several of the men who get close to her.
Sands’s humor tends to be highly unsubtle, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately, the author has an annoying tendency to repeat her jokes over and over, on the theory, I suppose, that if it’s funny once it’ll be even more funny the fifth time. Definitely not always true. The most amusing moments in this book are the ones that aren’t dwelt upon, like when Jane and Abel get new I.D’s. from B.L.I.S.S., and are slightly nonplussed to discover that they’re now Americans. (Hee.)
But the book also includes some jokes that fall falt, like the excruciating running gag about Maggie’s horrid little dog, Tinkle. Tinkle bites people, pees on people, and generally behaves in a way that would have her in the custody of the Humane Society in about five seconds. Rather than making me smile, Tinkle made me want to strangle her every time she’s mentioned, which is constantly. And I like dogs. Also, sometimes in this book things happen for no apparent reason. For instance, early in the story, a fair bit of space is given to Maggie’s efforts to make scones. She burns them. I’m still wondering what that was all about. Maybe the author was padding the word count, or maybe it was a joke that just bewildered me with its complete lack of humor – I don’t know. There are a couple moments like that.
The characters are generally likable but about as deep as the funnies (and I’m not talking about superior funnies like Calvin and Hobbes here). Their behavior throughout the book is driven by the whims of the author’s sense of humor, so it’s never consistent or terribly revealing of their personalities. Abel is a complete nonentity, but Jane has a touch of depth to her. Her transformation from technogeek to sexy female superagent is both entertaining and surprisingly sympathetic.
This is light, foamy entertainment, and if you’re in the mood for a laugh with no angst or high drama, I recommend it. More good news: at the end of the book Dirk Ensecksi escapes, so he might show up in another book in the series (Dirk Ensecksi. Hee.)