No Hope for Gomez! by Graham Parke
Graham Parke’s novel, No Hope For Gomez!, is an unusual read, and we’d expect nothing less from the 2008 winner of Broken Pencil’s Indie Deathmatch writing competition (his short story, “Amsterdam at Midnight” took the title). Without spoiling the plot too much, here’s the back-cover summary of the action:
“Boy meets girl. Boy stalks girl. Girl already has a stalker. Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.”
A humorous detective novel? Sure, why not? If the neo-noirs can have their cake and eat it too, let’s not deny the comedians a piece of the action. After all, even wiseguys like to laugh.
The book is additionally told entirely in the form of blog entries, and despite the fact that epistolary novels were all the rage back in the 18th century, we’re not sure whether the “blog novel” carries quite the same weight in 2010 (especially when some of the action is clearly happening in “real time,” rather than being described later for the blog). Still, it’s an interesting effort, chronicling the life of Gomez Porter, who enters into a research study and becomes infatuated with the doctor monitoring his progress.
While there are a number of things that don’t seem sufficiently explained, even when readers remind themselves to suspend disbelief (why a doctor would hire a patient to stalk her stalker instead of just calling the police, for instance), the overall story is amusing enough to push forward with the bumbling Gomez, a sometime antiques dealer in search of his true calling in life. The scenes in which he attempts to discover his “knack” (particularly when it comes to painting) can be quite hilarious, demonstrating Parke’s strength at creating self-deprecating dialogue for his characters as well as showing off a penchant for useless trivia.
Equally, the secondary characters often steal the spotlight from Gomez himself, such as when Gomez puts his employee, Hicks, up for auction on eBay. While readers may occasionally wonder where these amusing interludes are going, since they almost never directly relate to the plot, they are humorous enough that we want more of them despite ourselves.
In the end, it seems there is some kind of hope for Gomez (with or without the exclamation mark after his name), and although jokes about his “Swedish” heritage fall flat, he’s a likeable and odd enough character that readers will want more of his antics. After all, if his involvement in the research study has only recently caused him to notice how truly bizarre his day-to-day life is (not to mention all the people in it), there can only be more misadventures awaiting Mr. Porter in the future.
For more information on No Hope For Gomez! or to order a copy, check out Graham Parke’s website at nohopeforgomez.com.
(Originally published at Crack Books)