ROSS THOMAS – Voodoo, Ltd. Durant & Wu #3. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1992; paperback, 1993.

   Well, it’s out: Ross Thomas’s twenty-fourth book, and the third featuring the team of the lean, scarred Quincy Durant and Arthur Wu, pretender to the Chinese throne. What more needs to be said?

   The story takes place about five years after events of Out on the Rim. Durant and Wu are partners in WuDu, Ltd., a London firm that does for you which you might not want to do yourself. They are hired by Help! (a sort of headhunter firm for those with delicate, out-of-the-ordinary, and confidential needs) to find a pair of missing hypnotists. The hypnotists were also furnished by Help! to Ione Gamble, a famous actress-director accused of murdering her ex-lover and producer. Blackmail is feared, among other things.

   Recruited by Artie and Quincy to help are Otherguy Overby, an amiable but ruthless con man (“It was some other guy”), Georgia Blue, a thoroughly ruthless ex-Secret Service agent, and Booth Stallings, the international terrorist expert; all of whom appeared in the preceding Wu-Durant adventure. The interplay of characters among these five forms an integral part of the book.

   All of the things we’ve come to expect from Thomas are here to one degree or another. a convoluted fast-paced plot, thoroughly amoral characters (though usually charmingly so), and all imbued with Thomas’s wryly cynical way of looking at the world and its creatures.

   On the other hand … If you haven’t met the players before, you won’t find the usual carefully built and illuminating characterizations that are one pf Thomas’s strengths, and none of the supporting characters are strong enough to compensate. Too, the plot seems rather standard — for Thomas, anyway.

   Overall, it’s the weakest book he’s done in a long while. But it’s still damned good, and well worth your time.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #4, November 1992.

Editorial Comment:   Barry’s author profile of Ross Thomas, which anticipated this as his next book, can be found on this blog here.