This third instalment of the Walker Papers sets itself a significant challenge that it doesn’t entirely rise to: how do you make fighting sleep exciting?
The strength of this book lay in the character development and the dialogue.
The weakness lay in an excess of metaphor-heavy astral combat.
Moved the series along but if this is the shape of episodes to come, I’ll be tuning out of this series.
Joanne Walker’s actions in the first two books, “Urban Shaman” and “Thunderbird Falls”, have caused a disturbance in the Force, or at least woken up an as-yet-unknown big bad that is sending all Joanne’s friends (which includes half a Police Precinct) into a potentially lethal sleep. Joanne has to figure out what the threat is and how to stop it while dealing with big changes in her social life (she finally seems to have one) and confronting trauma in her past that made her the late-developing Shaman she is today.
Things I Liked:
The humour remains sharp and well-dressed. Joanne’s progress through her day is a chaotic rush from crisis to crisis lubricated by witty or sometimes regretful exchanges with her friends, bosses and even her maybe-enemies. This is done in a way that is smooth without being slick, makes me care enough about the characters and often gives me cause to smile.
The introduction of two new characters, (one of whom Joanne wakes up next to in the opening paragraphs – even though she doesn’t know his name or remember how he got there) freshened up the ensemble cast and gave lots of room for jealousy, misunderstanding, wit and a little bit of genuine insight.
I enjoyed going back and seeing Joanne Walker’s earlier self and getting a better understanding of how she got to be where she is. It was a welcome origins story that was done well.
The book ended with some decisions about Joanne Walker’s future that could set the series on a new and more varied path, which would be very welcome.
Things I Thought Could Have Been Better
The astral-projection dream-landscape stuff went on for too long and without enough physical action in between. The Walker Papers has the same problem as Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” comics, most of the conflicts happen at a level and in a place the rest of us can’t even see. This places a heavy burden on the metaphor machine. C.E: Murphy does this well but this novel had an over-abundance of it. I hope future episode will vary the pace a little.