A Plague of Scoundrels by Jon Cory © 2008 Komenar
A San Francisco comedian is let an apartment from a renaissance-festival type in exchange for carrying out a few curious errands, which the landlord requests via notes in a box outside the landlord’s door. And the comedian is never, ever, under any circumstances, to open the landlord’s door.
When the landlord leaves a note saying he’s in grave danger, the comedian opens the door and discovers a time machine. The landlord doesn’t just play medieval, he actually travels there! So, our comic protagonist dons a period costume and zaps off to save the day.
Plague was pretty well written to this point. The mystery of the landlord and the box and amusing quips from the comedian kept me interested. After we go back to 17th century England, which is where most of the story takes place, not so much.
The main problem was that Plague tried to be both a comedy and an adventure and wound up lukewarm at both. There was huge laugh potential in the culture clash of a modern stand-up comic in Tudor times, but Cory never mined it. The humor was limited to smart aleck one-liners in the comic’s head. They were kind of amusing, but never laugh-out-loud funny. The story could have used more reaction humor between characters of very different backgrounds. Then the smart aleck tone kept me from unengaged from the long, supposedly nail-biting action scenes.
I’m not saying Plague was awful. It’s a light humored, light actioned fish-out-of-water tale with clichéd period characters. The really good beginning just had me expecting more.