Monday, 16 January 2012
Hespira, by Matthew Hughes – reviewed by Stephen Theaker
Hespira is the name chosen by a young woman who has lost her memory, encountered accidentally (or so it seems) by Henghis Hapthorn in the course of what should have been a simple transaction on behalf of wealthy maniac (when emotions run high, the “muscles in his jaw moved as if small animals were burrowing under his skin”) Irslan Chonder: the recovery of his favourite soul boxes from a thief. Finding Hespira strangely attractive, though she possesses “the complete combination of feminine attributes” that he finds least appealing, Hapthorn takes her off-world to investigate her past—and also to steer clear of the violent consequences of his recent work.
This third and so far final Henghis Hapthorn novel presents a level of invention and effort that is almost too generous to the reader, though of course some apparently incidental pleasures prove crucial to the denouement, which includes a revenge worthy of Kirth Gersen. One feels for Hapthorn, a detective in a universe that makes less sense by the minute, but enjoys his gentle frustration with the universe and admires his determination to keep trying. This is a highly amusing book full of mysteries and discoveries; there is always more to think about, always a reason to keep reading. People often say that they didn’t want a book to ever end; in this case upon discovering an epilogue my reaction was literally to shout “Yes!” (Embarrassing as it is to admit that.) Very much recommended.
Hespira, by Matthew Hughes (Jabberwocky Literary Agency, Kindle, 4990ll).