Go to Homepage   R. C. Nienkemper: Fatal Games

 

Briarwood Publications (paperback);
ISBN: 1892614006
Bertie Wooster: I say, Jeeves, seems some fellow has written us up as detectives.

Jeeves: Really sir?

Wooster: Well almost written us -- I mean -- seems like us to me.

Jeeves: Really sir?

Wooster: Well it's enough to make one's b. boil, if you know what I mean.

Jeeves: Indeed sir!

Wooster: Well, Jeeves, use that old brain of yours and sort it out will you.

Jeeves: Certainly sir!

[Exeunt left.]

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but initially R. C. Nienkemper's Fatal Games read like the sort of detective novel P. G. Wodehouse would have written had P. G. Wodehouse written detective novels. 

The idea is great. Self-centered, bumbling playboy Pritchard Hale's main interests are food, drink, women and enlarging his expense account. When forced to work, "Pritch" toils his father's corporate law firm, investigating mysteries as they arise. The "acquisition" of a new company account and a request for help from the company's accountant interrupts this drone-like existence and lands Pritch into a mire of fraud, double dealing and murder. 

Then the book fell apart. Literally. Due to the lack of binding in part of the book's spine, the pages started falling out in the middle of chapter six. 

The plot stayed the course, but the book never quite read as well as a Wodehouse. Admittedly, it must be very hard to present self-centered carelessness from a first-person perspective. But it becomes particularly unpleasant to watch Pritch write off his affairs and other heartless behaviour in such a casual manner.  

Nienkemper's excessive description exaggerates Pritch's heartlessness and adds another irritant. Consider this sentence: "I said with a confusing, questioning tone as I scratched my head and looked to him for an explanation."  

Despite this, the plot intrigued me enough to "hold back the slobber" and force myself to finish the book, just to see what the ending would be like -- a promising sign for any writer. If future Pritchard Hale books hold back the over-characterisation, as Fatal Games does when Hale is briefly overcome with grief, the series could realize that promise and, like Wodehouse, become a joy to read. 

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Stephen John Smith

Your Views

Fatal Games by Robert Nienkemper is a good idea horribly written.  Mr. Nienkemper was in serious need of a good copy editor.  While the old-fashioned tone was somewhat refreshing, the fairly awful writing made for painful reading.  As the Crescent Blues reviewer noted, a character does not describe his own tone of voice when relating his comments to the reader (e.g., "I said with a confusing, questioning tone as I scratched my head and looked to him for an explanation.").  I hope Mr. Nienkemper will take a basic fiction writing class and have an unsparing editor go through his work before he publishes another novel.

Bkgobbler@aol.com