David. Good News, Bad News. Dutton. Sept. 2004. 320p. ISBN
0-525-94794-9. $23.95. Fiction.
This droll debut by the creator of A&E's spy drama MI-5 has a wacky premise:
Charlie and George both work for a division of the British Security Service,
and by mistake, they have been ordered to kill each other. They try but soon
join forces to find out why the Service would demand their termination. Although
the novel at first takes the tone of an intellectual game, it turns progressively
more serious as people start to die. Will either man survive the final confrontation?
Throughout, the writing is sharp and witty, the situations off kilter, and the
atmosphere edgy and unsettling. While readers will be immersed in the immediacy
of the action, they will also be distanced by the author's continual desire to "play" with
the espionage genre and strive for hip self-referentiality. Near the end, as
the story moves from London to France and, finally, to an isolated outpost in
western Canada, the author resorts to some of the standard features deflated
so successfully earlier in the novel. Is this a spoof or a thriller? Recommended,
more for style and wit than for emotional substance.