Inspector Nouveaux and the Case of the Unfinished Painting

© 2006 Joel A. Hoekstra


Thanks to Inspector Nouveaux’s invaluable detective work, we now know that it was indeed Ms. Scarlet who pummeled Prof. Plum with a candlestick to the back of the head, killing him instantly. But who could have anticipated that Ms. Scarlet would drink a vial of poison to avoid interrogation and protect the identities of her accomplices? And what was her motive for murdering Prof. Plum in the first place? Prior to their confrontation at the pier, Prof. Plum and Ms. Scarlet had never even met each other.

The only clues to the case rest in Prof. Plum’s private study. Unbeknownst to his friends and colleagues, Prof. Plum wasn’t just the lead archeologist at the Stone Temple Daggit dig site, but was also an amateur artist who studied the works of the ancient inventor and theorist, Leobendi Va Derci. Va Derci was renowned for making intricate sketches of marvelous inventions that never actually got built and often wrote cryptic notes backwards along the margins of his drawings. Apparently Prof. Plum had been replicating a little known Va Derci painting of a Stone Temple Daggit in his spare time just a few days prior to his death. But why was he painting it backwards from Va Derci’s original work, and who could possibly want to prevent Prof. Plum from finishing his painting?

Furthermore, was Ms. Scarlet really a blood-line descendant from the secret Elders of Picon, the Space Monkey cult who’s heretical writings were suppressed by the Church of Poseidon centuries ago? Or was that just a viscous rumor promoted by one of her many ex-lovers? More importantly, can the scantily clad pictures of Ms. Scarlet circulating on the net be authenticated, and why did Prof. Plum have a large number of them stored on his home computer? Fear not, Inspector Nouveaux is on the case!

Inspector Nouveaux and the Case of the Unfinished Painting
- published by Trojan Pulp Fiction Press.
© 2006 Joel A. Hoekstra

There are two Trojans in this picture, though it should be noted that they
are merely abstract representations of Trojans, and not really Trojans per se.

Painted Into a Corner
An in-depth review of
Inspector Nouveaux and the Case of the Unfinished Painting (written by J. Andrew Hook, published by Trojan Pulp Fiction Press)

A Review by Kara Thrace

Just when we thought that our fragile and stilted New Caprican literary scene could not get any more bizarre or depressing, here comes the latest addition of the schlocky but weirdly affecting Inspector Nouveaux series.

As usual, the titular hero doesn't disappoint: his lack of savvy and spectacular absence of any kind of skill are dependably and consistently on display yet again. It's good to see how true to the established inapt character the author has kept his beloved protagonist. There's something inherently comforting and stable about a guy who never learns.

Once again, the real hero of the book is a woman. Too bad she is dead. But since she is clearly of the downloadable kind (as evidenced by the numerous downloads of her scantily-clad images on the departed Professor's hard drive), a reader is left wondering how long it would take for the sequel to come out, in which Ms. Scarlet shows up wearing scantily-clad new body and solving the crime for which she was clearly framed. And, boy, could we use a sequel! Because, let's face it: the bumbling Inspector could not decipher the Va Derci code if it was drawn in stick figures.

And speaking of Leobendi Va Derci: What. A. Frakking. Moron! Who does this? Who invents stuff and then writes instruction manuals backwards? Who paints a quasi-important image just so his exasperated followers would spend countless hours repainting it the right way? And, while on the subject, who decides which way is right, and why not just press the damn thing to a frakking mirror and see if it talks? Va Derci may have been a genius. He may have been a crank. But one thing's for certain: he was, most definitely, a manipulative ass of Stone Temple Daggit proportions!

There are countless questions that the book provides - and that's in addition to the ones it actually meant to raise. The bigger mysteries are completely unintentional and stem from the book's incoherent and convoluted plot and sloppy execution. The questions that never get answered (hence the cry for the sequel, however painful it most undoubtedly will be to read):

Why the Space Monkeys, and how come they seem to pop out of nowhere and leave just as unexpectedly?
Why is Va Derci's Stone Temple Daggit considered a masterpiece when it's clearly not even painted the right way?
Considering how dumb he is, how is it that the good Inspector doesn't fall down more?
Whose genius idea was it to provide a website address to all those scantily clad images of Ms. Scarlet?

And those are just a few of the things this reviewer is left wondering about. To summarize: read this at your own risk, enjoy it at your own expense, try to solve the mystery at your own cost, but please, whatever you do, do NOT try to decode and build any of the Leobendi Va Derci's inventions! My editor and Doctor Cottle wish me to caution any and all would-be ambitious readers: the entire focus group (and a few production assistants who had their hands on an advanced copy) ended up being treated for 2nd degree burns, various dislocated joints, and a severe case of dry rot. A disclaimer and a warning label are being issued as I type this.

Enjoy. This book is not good for you. It will not teach you anything. It'll leave a weird taste in your mouth. It'll make you want your two and a half hours back. It'll make you itch to go find that J. Andrew Hook guy and bash his brains in. It'll make you hate inventors, painters, professors of any kind, scantily-clad women, and Space Monkeys.....And, I have absolutely no doubt that, once the sequel comes out, I will be fighting you in that line to be the first to get my hands on it.

This review is reprinted with permission of The Colonial Times.