Review: Go to Helena Handbasket by Donna Moore

Title: Go to Helena Handbasket

Author: Donna Moore

Publisher: Point Blank Press

ISBN: 9780809557363

Length: 153 pages

Setting: UK, present day

Genre: Private Eye Parody

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My rating: 4/5

One-liner: A sharp, screwball comedy with the added bonus of being deliciously short.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

First let me say how difficult I found it to review this book without giving away spoilers of not only the plot but where the jokes are. So the review is short. Like the book.

Helena Handbasket’s private investigation practice isn’t doing too well when Owen Banks walks (well crashes if we’re being entirely accurate) through the door and begs her to find out what happened to his brother Robin whose hands were posted to him that morning. What unfolds is a tale of a diamond heist, a serial killer with a penchant for hands (and fish), blackmail and a man whose girlfriends blow up in rather alarming quantities.

This book is to the crime genre what Scrubs is to TV medical dramas: a not-so-subtle but top notch parody. The characters, the story and the writing are all wonderfully absurd. There are clichés a-plenty: portents, brilliant felines, a serial-killer’s contemplative prologue and many more all put together in a way guaranteed to make a crime fan chuckle almost continuously. Humour in general and parody in particular is difficult to get right but Moore has achieved it with a combination of tight, pun-laden writing and an obvious affection for the hard-boiled PI novel. I don’t know what you’d make of the book if you’ve never read a mystery before and haven’t occasionally rolled your eyes at gratuitous femjep or the MacGyver-like survival skills of a protagonist but I’d suggest giving it a go anyway (for the character names alone).

Other stuff

Go to Helena Handbasket is also reviewed at Crime Scene Scotland, Euro Crime and The View from the Blue House

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5 Responses to Review: Go to Helena Handbasket by Donna Moore

  1. Kerrie says:

    Sounds good to me – too much humour for me though?

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  2. bernadetteinoz says:

    Hard to say Kerrie but I do suspect you might not like it – only based on what you’ve said previously about funny books. But I’ll bring it along to next book club and you can borrow it if you like 🙂

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  3. Dorte H says:

    Kerrie, don´t you enjoy books that make you laugh?

    I don´t go for them, but that is because many books which are supposed to be hilarious DON´T make me laugh. Donna´s book certainly did, and then I enjoy them.

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  4. Kerrie says:

    I have a “thin” sense of humour Dorte, But Helena Handbasket sounds as if it just might tickle it.

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