No Hope for Gomez! by Graham Parke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hands down, this was the funniest book I read in 2010.
Gomez Porter is an unsuccessful antiques dealer who's decided to earn some extra cash by becoming a test subject in an experimental drug trial. As part of the trial, he was asked to keep a blog reporting his experiences, no matter how mundane or unimportant they may seem. And that's the content of No Hope for Gomez!: Gomez's quirky and hilarious blog entries.
Gomez has no idea what kind of drugs he's on, so he has no way of knowing what kind of "experiences" and side effects the doctors expect him to report. He doesn't care, though. He only cares about Dr. Hargrove, the scientist who's running the drug trial. Unfortunately, none of his feeble and clumsy attempts at charming her seem to work - until a stalker gives him the perfect opportunity to show her how great he is. It looks like Dr. Hargrove is being stalked by someone, so Gomez comes up with the idea of catching her stalker by stalking her himself - I mean, he'll be technically her stalker's stalker, but he can't stalk someone he doesn't know so he'll be in fact stalking Dr. Hargrove in order to identify and catch her primary stalker. :D
At the same time, things become stranger and stranger in Gomez's life. One of the trial participants turns up dead, then the detective investigating the case disappears. Gomez suspects there's something amiss with the experimental drug trial, but Dr. Hargrove assures him that they aren't testing anything dangerous. He loves her, but should he trust her? Would she tell him if his life was in danger? Maybe she doesn't really know what the pills she gives him weekly do. What if he's scheduled to die next? Is there Hope for Gomez???
As this story is told from Gomez's POV and I was aware that he was participating in a drug trial whose side effects were unknown, I was constantly tying to guess which of the experiences he reported on his blog were real and which were drug-induced illusions. Was he really in love with Dr. Hargrove? Was the death of one trial participant that unusual? Did his downstairs neighboor Warren really dance the meringue on an overturned bathtub in stiletto heels and stir-fry hamsters in his balcony? What about the bizarre customers who popped up into Gomez's antiques store? Did he actually meet a man wearing a fake moustache, a three-piece suit, sandals and a sombrero? Was I going crazy because some of that stuff started to make sense to me? LOL!
This book caught me completely by surprise. It was LOL funny, with the kind of humor I like: dry, sarcastic and quirky. I've seen some reviews on this book mentioning Woody Allen and Douglas Adams, and I have to agree: Mr. Parke's writing, full of witty observations about human life and its endless absurdities, reminded me of them. Not a bad thing, as I love their work. :)
No Hope for Gomez! is Mr. Parke's debut book and he couldn't have done better. I'll be definitely on the lookout for his next release.
Disclaimer: I was asked by the author to read and review this book. Once I agreed, he sent me a copy of the book free of charge. Those facts had no influence on my review/rating.
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