Today, I’m very excited to be talking about Hobson & Choi, the darkly comic detective saga by my good friend and writing group buddy Nick Bryan (you should follow him on Twitter @NickMB, he is very funny).
The first book is The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf and the second is Rush Jobs, which came out just yesterday.
I’m reviewing both of the books, and for those of you still reading after that, there will be a shiny, shiny giveaway at the end of the post!
The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf (Hobson & Choi #1)
Angelina Choi was only trying to drum up some Twitter followers and make a good impression on her first day interning at John Hobson’s one-man detective agency.
But the campaign went viral and now they have a murder to solve, no money coming in, and an unwilling Hobson faced with battling some enormous beast. With both follower and body counts rising, can they crack the case without offending everyone or being eaten by a huge dog?
The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf is the first case starring Hobson & Choi, a bickering, mismatched detective duo for 21st century London. This book collects the debut storyline of the hit darkly comic crime web serial, extensively rewritten and improved for this definitive edition.
I loved that the whole story kicked off with Choi doing the brash “I’m not a kid” teenage thing and messing up the twitter account. The social media aspect of this book could so easily have read as gimmicky, but Angelina’s eagerness to prove herself and be taken seriously makes complete sense, and because there are serious consequences to the slightly distasteful murder-solving twitter promises, the reader doesn’t feel cheated.
The mystery plot was well-paced and building up to a tense resolution, but to me, it was definitely the characters that made the story shine. Besides the obvious question of who had a motive for murdering someone with a crazed dog, there were so many interesting tidbits. Between Hobson’s ex-wife, the receptionist Choi likes, Hobson’s unsavoury mob contacts, Choi’s Mum, the other receptionist, etc…, there’s a huge range of nifty side characters, each with the promise of lots of conflict in future books.
Smaller things also pack a big emotional punch, like an argument between Choi and her concerned mother, which kind of made me want to call my Mum and apologised for the times I was a little shit as a teenager. But never mind that.
Nick’s writing is funny, touching and above all, relatable. It’s got a ring of truth to it that keeps the reader hooked throughout. You’ll read this and find yourself cringing with sympathy when Angelina internally berates herself about that thing she can’t believe she just actually said out loud, or sighing along with Hobson’s exasperation at those hipstery trendy kids that work at the Inspiration Gestation Station. No really, that’s what their offices are called.
Rush Jobs (Hobson & Choi #2)
Angelina Choi returns for her second and final week of work experience at John Hobson’s detective agency, ready for anything after their first successful murder solve.
After all that online buzz, they’re in phenomenal demand. Can Hobson & Choi solve a kidnapping, play chicken with corporate crime, beat back gentrification, save a dog from drug dealers and head off violent backlash from their last case? Or will grim revelations about Hobson’s past leave them floundering in the chaos?
Rush Jobs collects the second major storyline in the Hobson & Choi saga, #1 on Jukepop Serials and #2 in Dark Comedy on Amazon, adding brand new chapters and scenes to the case.
I have to say straight away that I absolutely adored this. I liked the first book quite a bit, but this second volume really stepped up a notch. Hobson & Choi shows its origins as a serialised work with a number of smaller cases interweaving as the story goes, which was where it really hooked me.
As I’ve said above, I don’t read a lot of crime fiction, but I do watch a lot of US-style police procedurals, with a general season arc and a case solved every episode, excepting the occasional two-parter episode or recurring serial-killer villain. Maybe someone watches these shows for the intricate investigations, but I’m unashamedly in it for the characters. The same goes for Hobson & Choi.
This second instalment picks up right where the first left off and builds on the interesting glimpses of conflicts and relationships between characters. I particularly enjoyed seeing Choi grow in confidence as her work from the first book is acknowledged, and I liked Hobson’s pragmatism about the Twitter account: he thinks it’s nonsense, but he’s getting more paying clients out of it, so he’s getting Choi to keep it up.
There are more shades of good and bad in this one, more moments in which both Hobson and Choi screw up big time, more hesitation about the right thing to do. And as the story progresses, it becomes pretty clear that the Big Bad of the book is actually bloody terrifying, in a much more mundane and inhuman way than the hyper-aggressive ‘wolf’ from the first book. This made for some really tense moments when the jokes were reigned in and the true disturbing nature of the whole thing (including Hobson’s murky past) was revealed.
The book also ends on a more uncertain note as Choi’s two-week internship with Hobson has ended, but a third case, Trapped in The Bargain Basement, has already been announced, so we should see some more of Hobson and Choi. Don’t skip the bonus short story at the end of the book; it’s excellent and guaranteed to give you the creeps in a big, nasty, Orwellian way.
About the Author
When not reading or writing books, Nick Bryan enjoys racquet sports, comics and a nice white beer.
Finally, Nick is giving away a signed paperback set and three e-book sets of the Hobson & Choi series! So if you’d like to win The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf and Rush Jobs, just fill in the rafflecopter, and good luck!