Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bad Grrlz' Guide to Reality, by Pat Murphy

Open Road Integrated Media, ISBN 9781480483200, April 2014

How have I not read Pat Murphy before this year?

This is an omnibus of two connected novels, Wild Angel and Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell. There was originally a third, the first one in the sequence, There and Back Again by Max Merriwell, but the Tolkein estate objected, and the publisher at the time decided not to contest the issue.

Wild Angel turns Tarzan inside out. A little girl's parents are murdered while panning for gold in California, and she escapes to be rescued and raised by a pack of wolves. Sarah is the hero of her own story, growing up smart, strong, and gifted. Max is not her rescuer but her chronicler. He's well-meaning, honest, kind, and honorable, but occasionally clueless. Sarah's Aunt Audrey, the adventurous young Helen Harris, a circus leader, and a temperance preacher of many talents all add to the fun and adventure. This is light entertainment and a lot of fun.

Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell is a rather different story.

Susan and her friend Pat are on a cruise shortly after Susan's divorce. Also on the cruise, teaching a writing workshop, is famous author Max Merriwell, author of There and Back Again, and, under the pen name Mary Maxwell, of Wild Angel. He's also written a series of dark and gritty mysteries under the pen name Weldon Merrimax.

When Odyssey crosses into the Bermuda Triangle, Max's pseudonyms start showing up and making trouble. Susan has strange dreams, Max finds odd and vaguely alarming notes slipped under his stateroom door, and the ship's band comes up with a strangely compelling conga dance song. Pat offers explanations rooted in quantum mechanics. Tom, head of ship's security, has some real puzzles on his hands, with drinks being charged by passengers who don't exist and a report of a knife fight with no actual victim, but he still has time to find Susan very distracting.

Both these stories are a lot of fun, and this is a book where you will want to read the multiple afterwords, by Mary Maxwell, Max Merriwell, and, yes, Pat Murphy.

Highly recommended. Go buy it now.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.