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Island Of The Sequined Love Nun
Christopher Moore
Orbit paperback £6.99

review by J.C. Hartley

I'd never read a Christopher Moore book before but I'd definitely read another. I was attracted to this by the title, and the suggestion of 'pulp' fiction exploitative sleaze, which the blurb promised, with jungle paradise islands, cannibals, secret laboratories and sexy blonde high priestesses.

Christopher Moore is too clever a writer to toss off a potboiler that just touches the bases, and too funny a writer to be accused of a self-regarding post-modernist irony; Island Of The Sequined Love Nun actually makes you care about the characters, and as a kind of bildungsroman (alright then, an Entwicklungsroman, or an Erziehungsroman but let's not take ourselves too seriously), it ends up being a bit life-affirming.

The novel opens with Tucker Case hanging upside down in a jungle tree, bound for a cannibal's cooking plot (how thoroughly politically incorrect), then flips back to reveal how he reached this perilous predicament. Tucker is a pilot for Mary Jean Dobbins the head of a hugely successful pyramid sales cosmetics firm. Tucker is lazy, indecisive, and his only interests other than flying are drinking and screwing; when he attempts to combine all three, the bottom, almost literally, falls out of his world, and he is threatened with litigation and ruin. He accepts a job to fly medical supplies from a Micronesian island to mainland Japan, and stumbles across a weird cult, a doctor-come-missionary and his schizoid wife, the ghost of a long dead WWII flyer, and a role for himself as an unlikely prophet. Tucker's innate hesitation is explained in a neat Shakespearean aside along the way.

The story is hugely entertaining and very easy to read without suggesting shallowness; there's some seriousness, something to make you wince, and the sex is sexy, but mostly it's very funny.
Island Of The Sequined Love Nun

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