This novella combines three of my favorite things: murder mysteries, sci-fi (and I don’t care if calling it that is “vulgar”, Matt) and boy bands! Add a police detective with a fascinating history, literary snarkiness and huge doses of humor, and you’ve got a book that hits all of my reading sweet spots.
Las Vegas Police Detective Luce Delgado is called to the scene of the Matador hotel, where music producer Dr Maury Bendix has been found clawed to death in his bed, next to the bloodied and extremely drugged up form of one of his protegees, Bobby O, “the cute one” of the world’s hottest boy band WyldBoyZ. As Bobby O is part ocelot, he’s immediately considered prime suspect, tho it soon becomes clear that all five members of the WyldBoyZ — genetically modified human-animal hybrids who fled a burning barge conducting secret scientific experiments in the middle of the ocean before achieving global superstardom — had plenty of reason to want Dr M dead. Could the murderer have actually been Devin, “the romantic one”, who was perhaps too close to Dr M’s wife? Or Matt M, “the funny one”, who was looking to leave the band to pursue academia? Surely it couldn’t have been Tusk, “the smart one”, or Tim, “the shy one”? Could the murderer really be, as Luce’s pun-loving partner Detective Banks posits, “a rabid fan”?
Complicating matters is the fact that Luce’s 9 year-old daughter, Melanie, is a megafan herself. But Melanie’s expertise may be the key to cracking the case, and to saving the lives of even more people in the WyldBoyZ’ charmed, endangered circle.
The Album Of Dr Moreau packs a lot of terrific cultural commentary into less then 200 pages, celebrating and critiquing its subjects in witty ways that lean into both thoughtfulness and humor. Matt really is the funny one — I loled at at least two of his wisecracks, needing to put the book down as I just lost it laughing. The novella’s length, however, is also its main drawback. This is such a smart story that deserves to be drawn out into a full-length novel, with a little more reflection and slightly less pressured pacing. I felt like the murder mystery went by too quickly, juddering forward in transitions that could have used a little more story padding to smooth it all out. The sci-fi aspects could also have been given a bit more meat: I’d still like to know the whole deal with Jorge, for example. Like, I get who he is but I’d like to know a bit more of how he became who he did. That said, I really appreciated all the writing on music and pop culture, which was treated here with both the reverence and ribaldry it deserved. I’ll definitely be looking out for more of Daryl Gregory’s work from here on in.
The Album Of Dr. Moreau by Daryl Gregory was published May 18 2021 by Tordotcom and is available from all good booksellers, including