Laugh Out Dead 

Laugh Out Dead is the debut novel of Rupert Harker. The bio page on his website says simply, “Rupert Harker likes ice cream”. So there is nothing more I can tell you about the author, except that he lives in the UK.  He described the book as “a cozy crime comedy best described as Sherlock Holmes meets the X Files”.

Initially, I thought the book would be a traditional cozy mystery, and by definition it is:  the sleuths are not law enforcement personnel, yet they solve the crime. It somehow seems more than that, though. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if was written a bit tongue-in-cheek, as there were strange names such as the London Metrosexual University.

The book is the first in a mystery series titled The Urban-Smith Mystery series, yet it is written in first person from the point of view of forensic pathologist, Dr. Rupert Harker, which makes him the main character. Dr. Harker begins by telling us of the arrogant and haughty paranormal investigator, Mr. Fairfax Urban-Smith’s entrance during an autopsy. Rupert and Fairfax remind me of Niles and Frasier Crane from the American TV show entitled, “Frasier”. They use extremely pompous language when speaking to each other, as Niles and Frasier often did.

The duo goes about their investigations of several deaths involving people (mostly scientists) who receive calls on cell phones, then, on taking the calls, launch into laughter, and die. While the deaths seemed to resemble strokes, something much more sinister is at work. Of course, the press gave the name “the LOL Curse” to the mysterious deaths.

Everything from the Russians to London politicians, Hitler, even the Illuminati and NATO, was considered in the investigation. While they discovered the evil culprit, they missed no time enjoying themselves, especially Rupert, who had a taste for loose women, kinky sex, and cocaine. I did enjoy the play on names for an obnoxious police officer whose last name was Gadget, pronounced Gad-jay”. Rupert and Fairfax insisted on tormenting him by calling him Inspector Gad-get.

There is a lot of British English in Laugh Out Dead, some of which most people will understand – and some of which many will not. Be aware, the book has a very abrupt ending, and you know I hate that. Still, if you enjoy this genre, you will enjoy Laugh Out Dead.

What Makes This Book Reviewer Grumpy?

In places there was unnecessary description, and the phrase, “beg the question” was used in place of “raise the question”. They do not mean the same thing.

Aside from that, the usual things:

  • verb tense disagreement;
  • mixing singular and plural;
  • misplacement of the word “only” within sentences;
  • split infinitives;
  • using “come” when “go” should have been used;
  • missing commas.


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