Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hard Luck Hank: Suck My Cosmos by Steven Campbell review

    HARD LUCK HANK: SUCK MY COSMOS is the fourth novel in the Hard Luck Hank series. The series changes every volume with the station of Belvaille going through a variety of social and economic changes. In this volume, Hank's efforts in the previous books have paid huge dividends and it's gone from being Mos Eisley to a combination of Manhattan, Vegas, and Dubai. Hank can barely afford to to live on the station now and only manages to do so by doing the odd favor for the city's upper class.

    In this volume, Hank takes on a contract for a beautiful femme fatale (who ISN'T Garm) who hires him to investigate her husband for adultery. Hank fails this mission in a spectacular fashion when, an hour later, he witnesses her husband getting blown up by two men who look exactly like him. Hank is soon hired to find the killer, except for the fact the wife is the most obvious suspect, but discovers he's paid by the hour with the city council not really all that concerned if he ever does solve it. So, summarizing Hank's character in a single act, Hank decides to milk it for as much money as possible by doing nothing.

    This is a real return to form for the series as while I didn't much care for the previous volume, I felt this was hilarious. Hank dealing with the super rich and famous is a new area for the series to go. I also love how it's a non-mystery as no one cares about the crime, not even Hank. There's great moments spread throughout the story ranging from Hank accidentally ticking off a group of female ninjas who can't hurt him, Hank's horror at the realization he's dating the granddaughter of one of his old flames, and the final action-filled climax.

    I have to say the best part of the book, though, is the addition of Hank's robot butler Cliston. Hank is such a delightfully thuggish persona that the addition of a C-3PO-like character (except infinitely more capable) plays off of him well. The fact Cliston is a Dredel Led, Hank's archnemesis race, also helps matters because Hank is too lazy to care about his origins. Cliston will make a gentleman's gentleman out of Hank if it kills him (Hank that is) or at least his bank account.

    I actually had a lot of fun with the mystery itself as the stakes are significantly lower for "Suck my Cosmos" than previous books. This is just about the murder of someone no one cares about and how the case just won't die (due to Garm insisting on solving it as a matter of professional pride). There's a military coup in the works but the fact no one actually cares about the aristocracy also makes it delightfully off-beat. It's a "non-mystery" and that is perfect for a deconstructionalist take on sci-fi like the series excels at.

    The Hard Luck Hank series is full of action, humor, and great characters. While I don't think Hank, Garm, and Delova are enough to sustain the series by themselves--Cliston is an excellent addition to the cast and helps balance them out. If they can add some more permanent characters to the cast then this book series could last forever. The switch to high-class rather than low-class is something which doesn't fit "Hank" but works well as a one-off.

    In conclusion, this is another book which is worth reading if you're a fan of the series. You could actually pick up any of the Hard Luck Hank books and they'd be as entertaining as hell but this works best if you've read the previous volumes.


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