‘This is a work of fiction.Any resemblance to the living or the dead is purely coincidental and ought to make you ashamed at the comparison.’
PROMINENT PROFESSOR STABBED TO DEATH AT KINGSLEY COLLEGE
Unfortunately, the murder may get lost in the confusion of new vice presidents, marketers, focus groups, assessors and protesters as the administration tries to make education profitable.
There’s no time for mystery! Professor Clarence Van Dyke finds himself bewildered by the changes, but determined to get to the bottom of the killing. He wants his friend to rest in peace – or perhaps he just wants to spend more time with the attractive Detective Riordan. But isn’t he the primary suspect?
I don’t often choose to review ‘funny’ books. Humour is such a selective thing that it can be difficult to covey on the page so I’ve often picked up a novel that is billed as ‘hilarious’ and it’s failed to raise even a smile.
I couldn’t however pass up on the opportunity to read Professor I. M. Nemo’s (yes, it’s a pseudonym) Hire Idiots, a darkly comic novel set in the world of academia. As a PG student, it’s a world I know well and so I figured I’d get the in-jokes – and dark humour tends to be my sort of thing. And I did, indeed, get a good chuckle out of the book on more than one occasion.
Brimming with snark, Hire Idiots takes a sidelong glance at the world of academia, using the murder of a prominent (and, therefore, intensely disliked) academic as an opportunity to take a dig at the commercialisation of education and the ridiculousness of long-held academic traditions. Along the way there’s also some joking at the expense of the murder mystery genre, the study of English Literature, and the many stereotypes associated with university education.
Some of the jokes did, I have to admit, fall a little flat for me. In particular, whilst I appreciate that it is meant to reflect the personality and insecurities of the main character, I didn’t like the fact that nearly every female character is introduced via a description of how physically attractive (or otherwise) they are.
Nor did some of the characters come across as particularly well-rounded – but then this is a novel that is meant to ridicule the one-note nature of some parts of academia and is deliberately using that to create its satire. As I said at the beginning, humour is a very individual thing, so what didn’t land for me may well have others in peels of laughter.
And a lot of the book did make me laugh. To get the most from the jokes, I think some experience of higher education helps – although there’s quite a lot of digs at the general absurdities of workplace culture as well. And Hire Idiots is, for me anyway, definitely at its strongest when it is sending up the absurd nature of corporate ‘Newspeak’ and the sort of ‘Blue Sky’ thinking that sees thousands spent on marketing whilst no one thinks to put pennies towards actually delivering the services being advertised.
Plus there’s a tidy little murder mystery that is filled with some nice jabs at the tropes of the genre as well.
A quick read that whips along and neatly satirises both the absurdities of academia and current trends in working culture, Hire Idiots is sure to offer a chuckle and raise a wry smile amongst readers looking for an amusing way to pass an evening or two.
Hire Idiots by Professor I. M. Nemo is published by Fox Spirit Books and is available now in paperback and ebook from all good booksellers and online retailers including the Fox Spirit store and Amazon.
My thanks go to the publisher for providing an e-copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, as well as to Emma from Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to take part in, and organising, this blog tour. The tour continues until 29 September so check out the other stops along the way for more reviews and content!