The Unhuman series , written by Wilkie Martin, consists of four books so far. These are ‘Inspector Hobbes and the Blood’, ‘Inspector Hobbes and the Curse’, ‘Inspector Hobbes and the Gold Diggers’ and ‘Inspector Hobbes and the Bones’.
This series stars the eponymous Inspector Hobbes as well as Andy Caplet, the protagonist who is written in first-person. He is clumsy, unsure, dim-witted and possesses no redeeming qualities when we meet him. Inspector Hobbes on the other hand is the quintessential British Copper who is polite, smart, dynamic and not human. If Andy Caplet is best described as Bertie Wooster + Watson + Arthur Dent, then Hobbes is Jeeves + Holmes + Ford Prefect.
The stories revolve around solving mysteries in an outrageously punny way. These mysteries are set in the Cotswolds in the present world and are not too complex.
I strongly recommend Inspector Hobbes and * to any class of reader. If you have liked Wodehouse or Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, you are guaranteed to like these books. They are written in the same vein i.e humour set in a rich world.
What do I mean by a ‘rich’ world? I refer to the Cotswold setting with its group of characters which makes for a strong immersive experience. This is where I found the closest parallels to Discworld. You meet characters in one book and, by the next, they have become integral to the plot. There are recurring jokes with specific characters and these pop up when you least expect them. It is the standard English countryside that we are used to reading about but each individual and every landmark has something to contribute.
Let’s talk about character arcs. Andy Caplet has the best among the main characters. Without getting into spoiler territory, let’s just say that he is an unsympathetic and morally deficient person when we meet him in ‘Inspector Hobbes and the Blood’. Towards the end of the book, some of his character deficiencies have been resolved. And this trend continues in the rest of the books. This kind of slow character building is realistic and I found myself rooting for Andy towards the end. Hobbes, by his nature, has to remain mysterious since that adds to the aura around him. The rest of the supporting cast reveal a bit about themselves as the books progress but there is no real arc for them.
Pacing. I read through all the books as quickly as possible since I loved them. They draw you in and something keeps happening all the time. Only ‘Gold Diggers’ was a bit dragging initially but that’s a minor blemish in the greater scheme of things.
These books are F-U-N-N-Y. They have a great mix of puns, slapstick comedy, situational humour and subtle plays on the English language. Of course, when the four books are read back to back, like I did, obvious patterns in the setups and punch lines start to emerge. But these are not too distracting for now. I wonder what will happen when there are more books in the series though.
So, overall, I loved the books and am looking forward to the next ones.
Also published on Medium.