February 10, 2017
Fans of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy will enjoy Quest for the Holey Snail. The story starts off with a rather average, if somewhat dimwitted, main character, Horace Tweed, in search of a common item—a Swiss Army knife. He needs the knife in order to unsnarl the tape that he’s bollixed up, in order to reconstruct the letter that his dog has ripped to shred. In his search for said item, he encounters a number of other equally bizarre characters, and ends up on a quest to find a holey snail—that’s correct, not holy as in spiritual, but holey, as in a creature with hundreds of tiny holes in its shell—which is also being sought after by several others; among them, an order of homicidal monks, a strange man who hires Tweed and his companion, Norwood Junction, to find the snail, and a pharmaceutical company. And, why, you might ask, are they doing this? Because, said snail possesses an extraordinary and highly desirable property.
The story then takes off from there, switching from Tweed and his search to the murderous monks, to the police officer investigating a series of unusual murders. These seemingly unrelated events, despite their macabre nature, are narrated in a style that elicits chuckles at first, that quickly morph into guffaws, as one improbable event after another—with the occasional digression to give the author’s satirical take on historical events—unfolds, the reader is sucked deeper and deeper into the thread of the story.
There is, however, method to this meandering, as the author pulls all these disparate threads together at the end into a conclusion that satisfies. The universe, which has been twisted into unimaginable shapes, is put back into a semblance of orderly disorder.
I give this title four stars.