GUS OPENSHAW’S WHALE KILLING JOURNAL
Quercus/Murdoch Books May 2007
Reviewed by Sally Roddom
GUS OPENSHAW’S WHALE KILLING JOURNAL is a bizarre book. I had to keep
reading it because most of the time I just couldn’t believe what I was
reading. Even trying to pin a genre on the book is difficult. Is it a
murder mystery? Probably not in the strictest sense of the definition. Can
whales commit murder? Well to tell you the truth this never comes up for
discussion in the book. However, Gus Openshaw definitely thinks so, and is
hunting down the murdering whale that ate his wife, child and arm during a
vicious and unprovoked attack. The series of adventures, and high criminal
element would at least make the story a thriller.
With a rickety boat, and a whale-hunting licence obtained with the last of
his money, Gus sets sail to the Caribbean to exact his revenge. He finds
an abandoned yacht and ditches his boat for this. On the yacht is a laptop
– so he starts to blog his adventure.
Author Keith Thomson lets Gus tell his story through a blog, or on-line
journal. Each chapter is a diary entry which ends on a cliff hanger.
Thomson cleverly seduces readers into feeling as though they are online
readers. There are times where Gus asks his ‘online audience’ for help and
then, in a later chapter some event occurs because a member of the online
readers has provided help. Gus also receives assistance from a group of
terrorists because they have been reading his blog and want to help. On
the odd occasion Gus is unable to write the blog – so one of the other
characters writes it instead.
The other characters consist of assassins, lost European colonists,
pirates, drug runners and a psychotic cook. There is also a love interest,
a remote-controlled robotic giant squid and of course, the whale. The
story unfolds through a series of ludicrous adventures and the book ends…
well, it doesn’t so much end as stop.
I didn’t really enjoy the GUS OPENSHAW’S WHALE KILLING JOURNAL; it was too
over the top and silly for my taste. I love humour, but the author’s
attempt at humour would leave a child yawning. The characters are
featureless, despite their exciting backdrop. In the end I just didn’t
care what the outcome was going to be, didn’t get the point and I just
wanted the whale to escape.
Nov 2007 review originally published on Murder and Mayhem
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