I consider myself lucky that my parents and my brother like giving presents that people actually want and not ones that will surprise but might not be wanted. Which is how I came to get this book for Christmas. I gave them two titles (the other one was Just Kids by Patti Smith) and my brother chose the one he knew I would want the most (he also got a copy for himself). But on with the review:
Samuel Vimes reluctantly goes out to Ramkin Hall, the family country residence, for a long-overdue holiday with his wife and son. Sam junior is six and very interested in poo, so the visit to the country is a prime opportunity for him to indulge his interests. In the meantime his father notices that something is not well in the area: a goblin girl has been brutally murdered and no-one seems to care, and the goblins are not receiving fair treatment. Before he knows it he is neck deep in an informal investigation and at the same time he is busy training the local police constable and teaching him the Vimes way of policing.
This latest installation in the Watch sub-series of the Discworld books is more laugh-out-loud funny than several of the Discworld books before it, but its themes are just as dark. Sam Vimes is his old, slightly insecure and ornery self, Willikins the butler (on this country visit relegated to the role of Vimes’ batman - Vimes presumably being opposed to calling him anything as prissy as a 'valet') has blossomed into a full-fleshed character, Sam junior is a typical inquisitive six-year old, and Sybil, who is more visible here than in any book since her first appearance in Guards! Guards!, gets to show her merit. So far, so good.
The villain, or rather the evil henchman who stands in for the real villain who is only mentioned and never seen, is not fleshed out enough. He is a diluted Carcer (Night Watch) or possibly a speculation as to what Moist von Lipwig (Going Postal, Making Money) might have become had he become a killer instead of a con-man.
The story is the twisty narrative one can expect from Pratchett, but with somewhat fewer perspectives than in most of the other books. The goblins are strange and charmingly repulsive and the way they are treated really is shameful. Unfortunately some of the thrill is taken out of the story because Vimes handles everything (other than interactions with servants) with so little effort and so much panache that it takes away the uncertainty that a reader mush be given a chance to develop as to whether the hero will succeed in his mission or not. Vimes comes across as some kind of superhero, and it took away much of the suspense. For that reason I can only give it 3 stars.