Bodies by Si Spencer and lots of other people because ENGLAND

I found this ARC lurking in the depths of my Adobe Reader.  If Adobe Digital Reader has depths, that is.  I kept meaning to review it, but immediately after I read it I was simply so confused that words didn't seem to work properly.  I wish I'd made more notes in my ARC because this is just straight-up bizarre, when all I really wanted was a quirky, intelligent take on murder mysteries.



The premise of Bodies is pretty solid: four murders, four time periods.  All of them occur in London.  All related.

In 2014, D.S. Shahara Hasan combats riots in London's East End.  She's called over to a dead-end alley to find a corpse that's flayed and mutilated far beyond what any ticked-off rioter could do.

In 1888, Inspector Hillinghead interrupts a quick session between a gent and a whore and discovers a badly mutilated body.  Thoughts immediately go to Jack the Ripper, but this victim is male, which doesn't fit Jack's M.O.  Cut to the meeting place of the Order of Mithras, which we know is Very Bad because the windows are tinted red.  Woo.  Two mutton-chopped fellows ominously discuss the beginning of "the long harvest."

2050: Life as we know it is over.  Detective Maplewood suffers memory loss because of a "pulsewave," but continues to patrol the city.  She, too, discovers a mutilated body, and her long-buried police instincts return ... as does her favorite toy, a red ball.  Which then turns into a girl named Bounce who tells Maplewood, "Know that you are loved."

1940, London during the Blitz: a corrupt policeman tortures an Irishman with an acetylene torch, leaving him for dead.  The building explodes, and a new body appears: a man who's been tortured like the rest of the bodies we've seen so far.  Inspector Weissman--that's Whiteman, thank you very much-- is on the case ... in Longharvest Lane.

Now we start cycling through the ages, following the investigations.  The near-future one is so trippy that I can't follow what's going on.  Maplewood is so fried that she just says things like "Shiny!"  Shahara delivers a rousing patriotic speech on being British and Muslim and having "sexual congress" with a good ol' "Anglo-Saxon."  Hillinghead is a closeted gay man who also hangs out with the Mithrans and asks a few questions too many.  Weissman is a pathological liar who escaped from the Warsaw ghetto after murdering his niece and the Nazi who tried to rape her.  Because, you know, logic.  And family ties and all that.  The Nazi paratrooper captured after the bombing informs him, "Weisst du geliebt werden."  Now, I haven't practiced my German in a while, but I would have gone with "Weiss Sie geliebt werden" because I do not think that a prisoner and his inquisitor would be on an informal-you basis.  But I try to err on the side of politeness in languages that make such a distinction.

Things just get exponentially weirder from here.  Bodies disappear from morgues, men are driven mad by paintings, hermaphrodite ghosts show up, a guy gets "initiated" into a higher echelon of the Order of Mithras by murder, but is saved at the last minute by a dead man who recites the well-known "Know you are loved" schtick, and a great crowd of humanity shows up at Maplewood's hideout in London.

Turns out that the corpse just keeps reanimating.  His name is John Bull, and he's a time-traveling, nudity-loving, savior of ENGLAND.  YEAH ENGLAND ... and stuff.

Like ... at the end, I don't even know what was going on.  Why introduce this wild mythology with cults and sigils and code words and dead bodies when none of it really matters anyway?  Why does Inspector Weissman look like Todt from Raiders of the Lost Ark?  How did a Polish refugee become a police inspector?  Why did Shahara pretend to be a terrorist?  What purpose did the 1888 timeline arc serve other than introducing a gay policeman who gets tipsy and runs around yelling that he's a "Sodomite" who's proud to be British?

I'm sure my Irish and Scottish friends would just love this (don't personally know any Welsh people; sorry!).  It's all about England.  England, England, England--so bloody important.  This is some weird propaganda tripping on LSD.  Don't get me wrong--I would excoriate this just as much if it were pro-any other country.  Because it just doesn't make any sense and I wasted far too much time reading and reviewing it.

I received an ARC of this title from Netgalley.

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