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Whoever thought "It's just Smith" was a good idea?
on 24 June 2012
I get what Andrew Mayne is trying to do in The Monster in the Mist. I like what he's trying to do, but the end result doesn't deserve the praise it's been getting. It has hardly any ideas, and is not well written. Errors include "shoot" for "chute", "lot's" for "lots", and "whomever" used as a subject pronoun. We get vivid descriptions of the Boston fog in the opening chapters (you can hear but not see the carriage passing by right next to you), but when our heroes step out into it, Smith proceeds to point things out across the street.
There's a "comedy" misunderstanding sequence based around "thespian" sounding a bit like "lesbian" which reads as if it was written by a schoolkid.
If anyone addresses the hero as Mr Smith, he'll say, "No, it's just Smith." This cringe-inducing routine is why editors - or honest friends - are so necessary; it's a pathetic "character quirk" that needs ditching. Meanwhile, his antagonist comes across as a pretty ineffectual villain.
Strangely, the police and the public are well aware of the existence of the titular monster, so it's a wonder why they need to wait for a mysterious stranger to investigate it. Once Smith knows what he's up against, it's a slow plod to the end - like a dull description of someone playing Quake, the prose is flat and there are no plot twists or surprises along the way. I also wondered if the author has ever attended a Health and Safety lecture - or does he sit in his bath repairing live electrical equipment?
I have given two stars rather than one because I enjoyed the account of the original discovery of the monster, and because Smith is suitably mysterious. Whereas his Doctor Who origins are impossible to miss (his initial arrival is like a slightly-edited description of the TARDIS materialising), he's NOT the Doctor, and I'm tempted to read The Martian Emperor (much better title!) to find out what makes him tick.