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Very Bad Deaths by Spider Robinson
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Very Bad Deaths (2004)

by Spider Robinson

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A grieving 50-year-old living isolated on an island in British Columbia is contacted by Smelly, a former college roommate of legendary odor who, it turns out must keep people at a distance because he is a telepath, and receiving other's thoughts is painful. But now he tells Russell that he has received the thoughts of an unidentified serial killer, the worst of the worst, as his airplane dipped over Smelly's own isolated home. They must find him and with a female Vancouver cop, they do. To their regret. Robinson's writing style, which includes not as many puns as his lighter work, is entertaining. I wish I could remember his best lines so I can use them in my discussions with others although the way my memory is these days, I'm lucky if I can consistently remember my name. This is an excellent book. Robinson is already a past favorite of mine, this plot...and he's right, this serial killer is The Worst...makes more than palatable the kind of depressing psychol0gical horror I usually don't read. Recommended. ( )
  NickHowes | Feb 24, 2016 |
If you only know Spider Robinson from the Callahan series, and I mean the Cross Time Saloon series, not the Clint Eastwood movie franchise, this will be something of a shocker for you. Spider Robinson has a very dark side, but he writes it with the same fluid style he developed with the Callahan stories, and it softens the edges just enough that it comes across as not exactly comic, but not as dark as it could be.

Very Bad Deaths involves a trio of very unlikely protagonists, comprised of an underweight aging journalist prone to collapsed lungs, an overweight telepath who is a former college roommate and a very fit constable working the Community Relations detail, taking on a one of the most sadistic serial killers imaginable. No more vicious than that. Through Robinson’s story telling style, the level of violence is reduced from something that would make Dean Koontz squeamish to something on the order of a Road Runner cartoon, but you are still on the edge of your chair, or bed or seat or other favorite reading place, rooting for the good guys and afraid to stop reading, lest you miss something.

Maybe I have a soft spot for the author or maybe I’m awarding some extra merit for the unique blending of styles, but I’m calling this a four and a half star read. The social commentary is great, the dialog is wonderful, the overall pacing and character development is very well done. Not the usual fare from Spider Robinson, but still an outstanding story. ( )
  PghDragonMan | Jul 12, 2011 |
So what would you do if an old friend shows up at your door and says he's overheard the thoughts of a serial killer? Not just any serial killer, but an expert in causing suffering that's targeted an innocent family for the next few days? And you have firm evidence that your friend can, in fact, hear others' thoughts? You can't go to the police - who would believe such a ridiculous story?

Russell Walker faces this very dilemma in Very Bad Deaths by the well-known Spider Robinson. It's part mystery, part thriller with a dash of sf to add to the mystery. The story's pretty well done, and I like the premise. Certainly, Robinson's mixture of telepathy and unlikely action heroes is an unusual one. I'd prefer it if the book hadn't been quite so preachy on the political side of things, but given Russell's character, it was understandable. All in all, I like Robinson's Callahan stories better, but this was a nice, satisfying read. ( )
  drneutron | Jan 29, 2011 |
I've found another great scifi author. Original, funny, rich, thoughtful.... Very Bad Deaths is a treasure. The flashbacks and stories within a a story are priceless, and I can't wait to see what Smelly, Nika, and Russell get up to next. I could have done with a little less of the I Love Pot fandom, but it's not science fiction without politics. Great stuff! ( )
  hjjugovic | Jun 22, 2009 |
Mindreader Zandor

“overhears” murder plot by

very scary guy. ( )
  librarianlk | Oct 27, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 141652083X, Mass Market Paperback)

Aging baby-boomer Russell Walker wants only to retreat from the world and the shattering death of his beloved wife, into the woods of British Columbia. But the real world won't let him become a hermit. Instead, he finds himself thrust into the mystery of a series of mass murders by a monstrous sadist and serial killer who makes Hannibal Lector look like a boy scout. And he is caught in a frightening predicament: He is the only possible intermediary between a telepath called Smelly, so sensitive he can't stand to be near most people, and a skeptical police officer who needs to hear and believe what Smelly knows about the fiend. This involuntary trio may be the only ones who can catch the inhuman butcher before he kills again-if he doesn't catch them first.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:18 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Blind to the beauty of his island home in Canada, shattered by the death of his wife of 32 years. American expatriate Russell Walker is ready to join her. But Smelly won't let him." "Smelly - notorious for his refusal to bathe - was Russell's college roommate back in 1967. He's lived a hermit's life ever since, and only Russell knows why: Smelly reads minds, can't help it - and it hurts. After all these years, Russell is still the only person Smelly can stand to be near. And now Smelly urgently needs an intermediary with the police - suicidal or not." "He's learned that a serial sadist who would terrify Ted Bundy is at play in the Vancouver area. Unfortunately, he's got only scraps of information that aren't enough to ID either the killer or his next victims. And he can't even come close enough to a cop to tell his story." "Against his better judgment, Russell brings this unlikely tale to Constable Nika Mandic, a tough but unlucky Vancouver policewoman - and soon the mild-mannered Sixties survivor finds himself conspiring with a telepathic hermit and an uptight cop to track a monster to his lair." "But are the three together smart enough to stalk a creature who thinks of himself as the first true scientist of cruelty? If not, Russell's suicidal urges may be fulfilled sooner - and much less painlessly - than he planned."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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