Geoff McGeachin's D*E*D Dead! is a comic spy thriller, though you might have guessed that from the title and cover. Its tone is light, and the reading is breezy, made so by a number of ingredients added in just the right amounts. But I suspect hard work and careful planning went into that light tone, and don't think it condescending if I call the book a confection.
What makes it light? McGeachin does not linger long over killings. His hero (and a hero he is) questions his profession but does not agonize over it.
Scenes set in Bali make me want to visit, an ambition I'd never had before. I don't know if McGeachin has spent time in Bali, but if he has, I'd guess he loved it. Clues and teasers are planted throughout the novel, obvious enough for the reader to detect them, but clever enough to create suspense. Details of military supply operations and Balinese life and history are folded into the story without ever turning into information dumps. And that includes mention of terrorist attacks in Bali and touching observations about the island's recovery.
McGeachin was a photographer, and so is his protagonist, Alby Murdoch, the latter as a cover for his job with Australia's Directorate for Extraterritorial Defence, or D.E.D. The operation he uncovers is just wild enough to be the stuff of comedy, but rendered convincingly enough to be plausible.
McGeachin's other novels include Dead and Kicking, Sensitive New Age Spy, and one of my favorite titles, Fat, Fifty & F***ed. Like many an Australian crime story from Fergus Hume's The Mystery of a Hansom Cab on, D*E*D Dead! is set in part in Melbourne's suburb of St. Kilda, which must be one of the world's great crime-fiction neighborhoods.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010