One of my co-workers got me hooked on Tom Holt a while back. I’ve been working my way (slowly) through the backlog of titles Holt wrote before I got clued in. Barking is the newest book, and tells the story of Duncan Hughes, a lawyer-turned-werewolf who has to fight off vampires, hostile werewolves, an undead shapechanger, and his inability to do math.
One of the things I love about writers like Holt and Terry Pratchett is how they can take an absurd little idea like, in the case of Barking, someone being out of step with reality by 0.1% and spin 400 pages or more of absurdist plot around it. Barking is wonderful absurd. It hooked me right from the start. (I read more than 250 pages of it last night before I made myself pack it in.)
I think this book was the perfect storm for me. It had great characters. At first, I was a little leery of the main character, Duncan Hughes, because he sounded like many of the mild-mannered wimps that often get sucked into evil corporation/contemporary fantasy novels. But Duncan surprised me. Well before the end of the book, he was tough and wily–just what you want in a werewolf. It had a fantastic (in both senses of the word) plot, with plenty of twists and turns. There was even a false ending in there, for good measure. And it had humor. I’ve mentioned before that a book has to be extraordinarily funny to make me laugh while I read it. Barking had me laughing through out. It was a very fun read.