Saturday, May 18, 2013

Book Review: psych - The Call of the Mild by William Rabkin (psych #3)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Laughs and characters, especially Shawn and Henry
Cons: Plot tries to do too much
The Bottom Line:
Characters were good
But the plot should be sharper
For the fans only

Mildly Uneven

Having enjoyed the first two tie-in novels based on the TV show psych, I was looking forward to The Call of the Mild, the third one.  And I did enjoy parts of it.  Other parts were rather weak, however.

As a quick recap for those not familiar with the show, Shawn Spencer has been trained by his dad Henry to be hyper-observant.  But instead of becoming a detective like his dad wanted, Shawn drifted from job to job until he hit upon pretending to be a psychic to hide his true abilities.  As a result, he opened Psych, a psychic detective agency with his best friend, Gus.

When Ellen Svaco walks into Psych, it sounds like she has a simple case.  She's lost her favorite necklace while on a class field trip to Pasadena, and she wants Shawn to help her find it.  It only takes Shawn a few minutes to find it when he and Gus make the trip, but before they can return to the car, they are robbed at gunpoint by a mime.

Suspicions raised, they return to Santa Barbara to confront their client and figure out the truth.  However, they arrive at Ellen's house to find she has been murdered.  Why was that necklace so important?  And what is really going on?

First of all, a word of warning:  DON'T READ THE BACK OF THE BOOK!  The description given there spoils way too much of the story.  Fortunately, I figured that out early and tried my best to set it aside and just enjoy what was coming.

The problem with this book is the plot.  In short, it just tries to do too much.  We've got some side trips that, while fun, ultimately add nothing.  Too much time was spent with Henry.  Ultimately, that did play into the case, but it felt like it was slowing things down.  Frankly, there were just too many elements to the story.  While it does all come together for the climax, it is way too rushed.  I had to actually reread it to see if it really did make sense or not.  It does, but we needed the time to have some of the elements explained to us so we didn't have to go searching back through the book.

Of course, the joy of the TV series are the constant jokes and 80's references.  Those are in abundance here, and I got quite a kick out of many of them.  In fact, one scene talking about how important the characters were to the plot was a riot.

As far as the TV series characters go, only Shawn, Gus, and Henry really get enough time to be fully developed here.  I really like what the author did with Shawn and Henry's relationship.  It's hard to say very many new characters got enough time to be truly developed, although a couple do stand out.  The rest are distinct enough for their part in the story, but they aren't fully developed either.

The book continues to be told in limited third person.  Mainly, we are in Gus' head, but we have occasional side trips to Shawn, Henry, and even one of the new characters.  The writing is sharp and makes the book a fast read.

Because of the plot issues, The Call of the Mild is the weakest of the psych tie in novels so far.  However, there are still enough fun moments to make it worth reading for fans.  If you aren't familiar with the show, there's no need to bother, however.

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