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on 23 June 2008
Far too Douglas Adams-y for its own good, you can almost hear Peter Jones' voice reading aloud some of the passages and subclauses. So far, in the first forty pages, I've noted two direct lifts from "The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul" (most unforgiveably, a character called "Kate Schechter", exactly the same name as the main female protagonist in "Long Dark") as well as lifts from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's "Good Omens" (singing along to a Queen tape in the car).

It is a funny book, but hardly stellar in its attempts to move away from its influences. If you're steeped in Wodehouse, Adams, Waugh, Pratchett, Sharpe etc., then there's nothing here that will greatly surprise (although strangely, Marsh hasn't picked up much from the writing style of Alf Wight/James Herriot). To be technical, a lot of the jokes (mostly bad observational comedy or similies) either fizzle out or don't make sense. The author clearly knows how to structure a good Wodehousian novel - but then fills it with fluff and spam, rather than anything of real substance. For example, the main character comes home on Christmas Day and, guess what, "The Great Escape" in on the telly. Despite the fact that - famously - "The Great Escape" hasn't actually been on terrestrial TV on Christmas Day for decades, this is such a painfully obviously joke that it can be anticipated two paragraphs before it actually appears. And then the "Great Escape" jokes keeps coming through the rest of the chapter - one of which doesn't even make any sense because it mixes up Donald Sinden (who didn't appear in the film) with Donald Pleasance (who did).

Did no one proof-read this?
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on 22 October 2015
Loved this book. Often had me giggling out loud although that did earn me a few stares from people close to me! Already reading the next book in the series and it already has me laughing. Great stuff.
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on 4 September 2014
Good and well written comedy. Some of it a bit predictable but overall I liked it.
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on 15 April 2006
This book is an excellent read, both amusing and interesting. It is very similar in style to that of Douglas Adams or an early Terry Pratchet, with fantastically black humour and none stop action. All this combines to produce a book you are unable to put the book down.

A great read, highly recommended.
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on 23 March 2013
This is a very impressive debut novel by an obviously talented and intelligent author. I love this quintessentially British style of humor which oscillates between tongue-in-cheek to downright zany, from witty to just plain bizarre. Which is not to say that it is all for laughs, either. There is a plot and suffice it to say that true to the genre there is a scary threat to the time-space continuum and the future of the world, as we know it, rests in the hands of an unassuming veterinarian who in the course of his regular practice is called out in the dark of night to help assist in the birthing of what turns out to be a very otherworldly-looking calf. Little does he know the adventure he is about to embark upon but luckily for him he has his not-so-bright sidekick and soon crosses paths with a very pretty girl, who along with her good looks is also a genius physicist with the ability to see dead people; skills which will come in very handy indeed when the extent of the threat to the nature of our very existence becomes more evident. You do not need to like science fiction to enjoy this book. A healthy sense of humor and a concern for the future of humanity would suffice:)
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on 30 December 2006
A highly entertaining first novel written with a sense of humour which often leans in the direction of wit. It involves a discontented vet who is drawn into a struggle of good (our hero and his friends) versus bad of an unusual flavour. I give it 4 rather than 5 stars because there were features of the plot which I was a bit uneasy about, in particular an unnecessary sub-plot near the end (a cliché from the horror genre) which felt as if it was bolted on.

Don't miss a short comparison of ideal automatic doors and those which we encounter in real life.

I look forward to the author's next novel with keen interest.
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on 29 January 2007
This is the first sc/fi book I have ever read and I always assumed I wouldn't enjoy this particular genre. But I really enjoyed this book. It had all the ingredients of a good book for me. It was thought-provoking, intelligent, witty, dry, imaginative and well written. The book was written in an easy, comfortable style. I particularly enjoyed the vet 'bits' and my partner did too. I found myself laughing out loud on occasion and unable to put the book down with suspense on others. Nick Marsh is a practising vet with an obvious great sense of humour and also sensitivity. I think I'm converted to a new genre! I can't wait for the next one.
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on 7 May 2012
I grabbed this book after seeing it mentioned on Yog-Sothoth and heard the author on a couple of podcasts. The idea of vet + Cthulhu Mythos seemed promising, and seeing as the author is a vet I expected it to be fairly true to life as well.

It's been a good, enjoyable read, with some really funny lines and some very insightful ones (mostly also funny). Alan's working life is full of scenes that I suspect to be drawn from life, or at least inspired by it - in particular, the unfortunate things that happen to him are put across with great clarity, succinctness and feeling that must surely be the voice of experience. The plot is solid - not entirely novel, but it doesn't need to be - and the execution decent. It was paced well to keep me reading, and while I didn't fall in love with the characters, they were interesting and human enough to keep my attention. That being said, I felt it was somehow a little rough around the edges, and not quite as smooth as it could have been, though not in any way I could pinpoint. That's probably due to it being Marsh's first novel, and it didn't significantly dent my enjoyment. At the same time, I felt a lot of enthusiasm for the story coming through the writing.

For those trying to guage what sort of book it is, the style and storyline reminded me somewhat of Charlie Stross (but rather less bleak) and sometimes of Tom Holt (but rather less complicated). While I'm not going to claim it's the best thing I've read for years, I thoroughly enjoyed Soul Purpose and will be picking up the sequel when my to-read pile is shorter than I am.

If I was going to give Marsh one suggestion, I'd say the style of the back cover doesn't do him any favours. The big, oddly-spaced capitals and stark font of the blurb give it an over-keen, amateurish and self-published feel and left me expecting a much less accomplished novel than it actually is. I feel like switching it to a standard sentence-cased paragraph would make a significant difference to the impression it gives. As it is, I worry that it might put off readers who would actually enjoy it - I certainly take cues from the blurb if I'm browsing in a bookshop.
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on 30 September 2010
OK, 1st off a caviat - Nick is a friend of mine and the reason I read his book is that I kind of thought I had to...

... and I'm SO glad I did!

The book is well written, runs along at a good pace and has a great quirky humour. Nick is a vet in real life and in his characterisation of some of the more "interesting" aspects of the job this really comes across.

It's been commentated that it feels like a Douglas Adams book, which seemed to be meant as a criticism, to me it seems high praise indeed! And also, not 100% true - the humour is more just a British view of the world, than 1 particular authors.

Finally, why only 4 stars? Well it's his 1st book and I reckon the rest (of which I hope there will be many), will be even better!
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