Wolstencroft, 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.

LJ, 129, no. 15 (September 15, 2004), 51.

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