It’s rare to find a thriller that is also funny—often the humor makes the thriller part seem campy, or the thriller part causes the humor to fall flat. The Unhappy Medium by T. J. Brown is, fortunately, that rare combination of a thriller that will chill your blood, while you’re laughing so hard at the funny parts you’re likely to wet your pants. In fact, some of the thriller parts might just have the same impact.
Dr. Newton Barlow is a scientist who also happens to be cool enough to be a TV personality. A rational, believe only what can be proven type, he incurs the envy and wrath of the buttoned-down science establishment. When he lets himself get hooked up with greedy business types, he is finally rejected, and then ejected from real science. Down on his luck, he turns to his mentor Dr. Alex Sixsmith, but unfortunately, that worthy dies before he can make contact. Now, ordinarily, that would be the end of the story, but it isn’t—it’s just getting started. You see, Sixsmith contacts Newton, or at least his ghost does. Hyper-rational Newton has trouble accepting this, but when he finally does, he finds himself hip deep in a battle to rid evil from the world, and keep it penned up in Purgatory until it can be expunged.
This book has some parts that are definitely not for the squeamish. Graphically described acts of violence will cause you to look over your shoulder every time a floor board creaks. But, hang in, because the laughs will also come, and you’ll be glad you toughed it out.
I was disappointed when it ended. Not that the ending wasn’t competently handled; I just wanted to read more of Newton’s adventures, so I’m hoping the author is paying attention and will start on the next one—soon!
Five stars for a great comic thriller!