Monday, August 6, 2012

Arty -- Time Stops For No Mouse by Michael Hoeye

Yeah, Arty's alive.  Sorry 'bout that, much importantness crammed my weekends.

So.  Time Stops For No Mouse.  I've seen other books in this series in various places, and they all look very cute - I mean, mouse detective stories.  Generally the only mysteries of any sort that I can abide.  The Great Mouse Detective springs to mind.  But I digress.

I finally found the first book in the Hermux Tantamoq Mysteries, and it took me way too long to read it.  But I finally did, and now I'm wishing that I had before now, because it's really, really cute.  That's the word that sums up basically everything about this book - cute.  (Even with the villainous youth-crazed mad scientists and the murder-by-mousetrap and such.)

Hermux Tantamoq is a humble mouse watchmaker.  He's minding his own business, fixing watches and clocks, when in strolls Linka Perflinger - daring and lovely aviatrix/adventuress mouse.  She broke her watch during an adventure, and needs it fixed posthaste (watches are critical to the timing and execution of life-threatening stunts).

Hermux is taken with Ms. Perflinger and readily agrees to fix the watch for her.  Unfortunately, Ms. Perflinger is involved with much more than just innocent, death-defying tricks.  When a strange, sinister rat comes into Hermux's establishment, demanding to have Ms. Perflinger's watch, Hermux knows something is up.  He follows the rat, and...

Okay, if I keep summarizing, then I'll never stop.

This is one of those books that's hard to sum up, because there are several threads of conflict that emerge later on and connect in unexpected ways.  It's not complicated, per se - just not simple.  You have Tucka Mertslin's cosmetics and shady new Millennium line that makes everyone look younger, the scientific exploration into a tribal community of rodents who never age or die, Dr. Mennus's 'Youthanasia Resort'...

One of my favorite parts about the book was the character names.  Hermux Tantamoq.  Linka Perflinger.  Tucka Mertslin.  Pup Schoonagliffen.  I've read reviews where readers were bugged by this, but I LOVE it.  So... cute.

Basically, if you don't like cute, then don't read this book.

Hermux is an adorable main character.  He's the perfect regular Joe, just doing what he does.  There is no real point where he's all I'm Going To Be A Hero now.  He just... is one.  Because he's cool.  And cute.  I love Hermux.  Officially one of my favorite literary mice, up there behind Reepicheep.

And then there are the surrounding cast, most of whom aren't particularly good people, but are still interesting.  Tucka Mertslin is appropriately nasty and obnoxious.  Dr. Mennus is a little cliché, but he still has a very cavalier feel to him that seems creepy.  Pup Schoonagliffen fulfilled his role very well.  And Terfle.  Terfle is Hermux's pet ladybug.  She was so. adorable.  Ladybugs have never been that adorable.

There are some downsides.  Like I said, it's a very cute book - well-written, definitely, but cute.  It won't appeal to a lot of people for that reason.  The mystery seems to be wrapped up very neatly at the end, although I don't know if anything besides a neat ending could suit this kind of book.  And the first half of the book, while incredibly amusing, might bore some readers - it's very much about Hermux's daily life.

In my mind, though, there was very little that was wasted about this book.  It's adorable.  It's about amateur mouse sleuths and fountain-of-youth chemical formulas.  Just... read it.  Read it.  It's awesome. I can't wait to get my hands on the sequels.

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