John Zakour
& Lawrence Ganem,
The Doomsday Brunette
(DAW, 2004)

A near-perfect murder mystery, this story even begins with "It was a dark and stormy night." You gotta love the classics!

Doomsday Brunette continues to follow the traditional format of mysteries throughout time, and even helps us novice readers out by presenting an overview of just what that formula is.

And yet, even while we are told that the butler has to do it and that all will be revealed by the detective in the parlor in the end, somehow the clues slip past anyway and the ending is quite a surprise.

The butler does do it, or at least some of it. But so does a genetically enhanced ape, the victim's sisters and, well, even the victim herself gets in on the act!

In the very near future there is no one more powerful than Ona Thompson, eldest of the famous "Thompson Quads." Using genetic enhancements of his own invention, Dr. David Thompson created the quads in the early 21st century. Grown women now, they have unfortunately grown apart, and divisions in the family have caused some murderous resentments. When Forra Thompson is discovered dead, Ona and her sisters, Two and Threa (so Thompson was a scientific genius, but should maybe have bought a book of baby names!) want some answers.

Our narrator, Zachary Nixon Johnson, is the best in the PI field. He's on the case, though he's not quite sure at all times exactly what the case is. Sure Forra is dead, but her nigh-indestructibility is making it tough to figure out just why.

The wacky cast includes HARV, a computer enhancement plugged into Zach's brain, but with a personality all his own, Twoa the Superhero, Threa the Fairy Queen and any number of screwball sidekicks and background characters.

The interactions between these off-the-wall characters is surprisingly realistic. The personalities are well formed and the relationships believable. Although Zach and his fiancee Electra rarely have time to see each other in person, she is never far from his thoughts, and he mentions her often enough to make her an active player in the plot.

If one adventure with Zach just won't do, you can also join him in his previous novel The Plutonium Blonde, or the soon-to-be-released The Radioactive Redhead.

- Rambles
written by Katie Knapp
published 15 May 2004

Buy it from