Punch lines abound in this lighthearted spy comedy.
In a literary landscape full of serious spy thrillers, this romp sticks out like a 7-foot clown in a police lineup. If you’re looking for thrills, taut suspense or labyrinthine plots, you’ll probably want to shelve this for a sterner offering; but you’d be hard-pressed to find a spy novel that so steadily delivers page after page of one-liners and a plethora of comedic setups and knockdowns. The novel follows Reggie Dipwipple through a Police Academy–esque crash course in spy know-how and history of the SNACKS program, aka Sublime Nemesis Against Cabal Knaves Supreme (sworn enemies of GUTTER: Gouging Ulterior for Terror, Trafficking and Egomaniacal Rancor). Through his course work and on his first assignment, Dipwipple and the reader learn a great deal of trivia and true spy history. Author Dipwipple’s (How to Be a Comedy Writer without Really Succeeding, 2011, etc.) primary technique relies on a constant barrage of jokes, which may exhaust some readers. There are a few cringe-worthy puns and jokes you’ve heard before, but a healthy serving of intelligent comedy and longer setups usually keep the reader’s attention on track. Although the digressions almost always entertain, they can feel pointless when there’s no plot to move the story along. No one here is who they seem (even Dipwipple the author has an alias), so character development would seem difficult. Yet the author accomplishes plenty with the goofy material, providing the reader with flawed but fun characters and real bones beneath the comic exterior.
The laughs never stop, but this one’s more fun house than thrill ride.