If Hercule Poirot was investigating the events of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, this would be the book a stoned Agatha Christie would write. Ded Smith is a sad sack insurance claims investigator whose reputation for getting to the truth of things pulls him into the drama of who killed Ickey Jerusalem right from the moment Ickey is found dead in the first-class bathroom in his flight to San Francisco. He gets pulled in deeper when it is found that Ickey recently took out a multimillion-dollar policy with his insurance company. This is a quirky and at times bizarre read which interweaves the poetry, art, and philosophy of William Blake with a locked-room mile-high club murder mystery. The cast of characters in 1977 San Francisco is as colorful as you can possibly imagine. It was a challenging and long read with lots of dialogue that needed some chewing to get through. While humorous at times, I sense the humor is more suited to the male species (do guys really compare randomly encountered objects to the shape of sperm that much???).
Like Poirot, Ded Smith uses his brilliant grey cells to get to the bottom of things without telling the reader exactly where he is going with his thoughts along the way. If you persist, the payout at the end as Ded unravels everyone’s secrets and delivers the ultimate reveal. I don’t think you need to know much about William Blake to enjoy this story. A quick Wikipedia read of Blake’s bio is a nice supplement. Sure, there are probably lots of intricacies a Blake fan will appreciate all the more, but just read and go with the flow.
3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars because I appreciate the author’s artful and quirky cleverness.
Thank you to Galbraith Literary Publishers and #NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.