Go to Helena Handbasket, by Donna Moore

 

GO TO HELENA HANDBASKET is one hundred and fifty pages of pure fun. Donna Moore has written a crackingly paced, witty send-up of every hard-boiled crime-fiction genre going. Each paragraph, even almost every sentence, is rich with puns, knowingly sly digs at many cliches, wisecracks and sheer good humour.

Helena Handbasket is an unlicensed PI who takes on the case of searching for Robin Banks, whose brother has discovered a pair of hands, and is worried that Robin is missing. In the meantime, a mutilated, handless dead body is found in the woods, with one of the ten commandments written down on a piece of paper left in the corpse's mouth. Helena is convinced the two pieces of information are unrelated.

The author misses no opportunity for a joke: Helena's cat, the state of her fridge, her wardrobe, her penchant for a nicely put together male, are all interwoven with her dark journey in the sordid dives and underbelly of British suburbia.

Clues are thrown in Helena's face constantly, but she shrugs them off and wilfully takes the wrong turning at every opportunity, getting beaten up or shot, interrogating witnesses, always one step ahead of the police detective more intent on completing his expenses or buying donuts than solving the crime. The FBI becomes involved – or does it?

This hilarious book defies review or any form of categorisation. If you are a well-read crime fiction fan you will find a plethora of allusions and take-offs that will have you chuckling as you turn the pages. If you are not, you'll still find plenty to laugh about as Helena pursues her hilariously off-kilter lifestyle and investigations, aided by various expert friends who are not quite sure who she is, but who cheerfully provide their dubious expertise.

I highly recommend this explosively funny book as an antidote to the too many serious problems that exist in the world.

First posted at Euro Crime, March 2009.

This entry was posted in Books, Crime fiction, Eurocrime, Europe, Humour, Police procedural, Scotland and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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