Sam Hooker’s Peril in the Old Country, the first novel in a trilogy, is a new entry on the very short list of books that feel like they were written to spec for me. It has a shy, sheltered character who finds themselves suddenly way over their head in conspiracy and derring-do. The world is full of goofy details (goblins the appear when people swear, for example), with satirical subtext. It’s written with an old-fashioned loopiness with paragraphs that start with exposition and end with jokes dotted throughout the text. I loved everything about this book except for the cliffhanger ending.
Sloot Peril does his best to be the perfect citizen and accountant so that he can spend his life drawing absolutely no attention to himself. But then he corrects a report written by a coworker and gets a promotion. For anyone else, this would be great news. Sloot thinks so to, at first. When he tells his mother the wonderful news, he is stunned to learn that she has been a spy for the Old Country’s nemesis, Carpathia. No only that, but she’s retiring so that Sloot can take over. Being a spy is the last thing he wants. He doesn’t want to be caught and sent to the Ministry of Conversation (recently rebranded by the Ministry of Propaganda). Unfortunately for Sloot, everyone else in his life easily out-stubborns him. Sloot reluctantly takes up his new posts as Carpathian spy and financier for the scion of the richest family in Salzstadt, the capitol city of the Old Country.
Adventure arrives soon after. Before long, Sloot has to deal with all the people who think they can tell him what to do, getting involved in plots, trying not to swear, keeping a man-child from disaster, and not blow his cover. Peril in the Old Country runs along the fine line between action and comedy, with some touching little scenes in which Sloot tries to share his feelings for Myrtle (who is inconveniently possessed by the ghost of a philosopher). I enjoyed this book so much that I almost swore when I came to the cliffhanger ending. Now I have to wait who knows how long until the next book comes out and I can find out what happened to Sloot and Co.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration. It will be released 5 June 2018.