The Night Mayor

A long long time ago, when I was obsessed with everything Games Workshop touched, they started commissioning novels set in their not-quite-a-rip-off-of-Tolkien fantasy universe. One of the authors they recruited was Kim Newman, the massively-mutton-chopped film reviewer, who managed to smuggle into the Warhammer milieu a pastiche of Dirty Harry and the fairly terrifying Drachenfels, a retelling of something I’m not even sure of. These novels were under the pseudonym Jack Yeovil, but I slavishly read all his "own" work as well, starting with the homophonically confusing "The Night Mayor" and then progressing to such gems as The Quorum.

Now, the wonder of the Kindle is I can find and reread these obscure pieces, six thousand miles from where I first found them.

The Night Mayor begins like a darker version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, sans cartoons. The wise cracking Bob Hoskins-alike is breaking the fourth wall as fast as possible, in a bleak film noir/virtual reality mashup where the jokes never stop coming. That’s actually a function of the trap he’s caught in: Truro Daine, the villain and eponymous Mayor, is trying to take over (virtual) reality from inside his prison cell, and Our Hero, sent in to stop him, has instead been beguiled, confused and lost in this strange world of noir.

I haven’t read the rest yet, but I remember it stepping up throughout the novel. The apparent protagonist isn’t so important (Newman, as so often, has a stronger female character to introduce a chapter later) and then things get stranger and stranger. Newman loves super-refernential gags, and I assume a lot went over my head as a 13 year old, and probably still do now, but fun things like reimagining a perambulator crushed in a car chase as being nothing but a trolley full of tin cans (and thus not being anything for Our Hero to worry about) have stuck with me. I’m almost reluctant to reread the whole thing, just in case I’m disappointed at the story I can only half remember. But we shall see.

Annoyingly, I’ve tweaked a muscle in my neck and can hardly move my head without incurring a lot of pain. Hopefully painkillers and a good book solve this by morning, so I can turn my head again. I hope.

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