Agony Column Home
Agony Column Review Archive

The Vaccinator

Michael Marshall Smith

PS Publishing

UK Hardcover First

ISBN 1-902-88007-2

Publication Date: 06-01-1999

51 Pages; £24 ($40.00)

Date Reviewed: 08-19-02

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 2002

Foursight/The Vaccinator

Michael Marshall Smith

Victor Gollancz / Orion

UK Hardcover

ISBN 0-575-06870-1

222 pages; £15.99

Publication Date: 05-16-2000

Date Reviewed: 08-05-02, 08-19-02

Binary/The Vaccinator

Michael Marshall Smith

Victor Gollancz / Orion

UK Paperback

ISBN 1-857-98760-8

176 pages; £3.99

Publication Date: 12-28-2000

Date Reviewed: 08-19-02

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 2002



Mystery, Science Fiction, Horror

08-26-02, 12-13-02, 06-14-04

Some writers manage to treat genre subjects yet still make it seem as if the reader is enjoying mainstream fiction. At his best, Michael Marshall Smith can write fiction that easily blends all genres, yet doesn't seem limited by any. It's wide-open fiction; no limits, but only excellent prose writers need apply. Smith is easily an excellent prose writer. He can write humorous dialogue and segue into the surreal while the reader stays on autopilot. In 'The Vaccinator', Smith is at his genre-bending best. It starts out as a Carl-Hiassen Florida-style mystery, but ends up in the Bermuda Triangle. It's a journey just about any reader is certain to enjoy.

'The Vaccinator' leaves the gate as Eddie Kruger gets a new client. Kruger is a Vaccinator, someone who protects his clients from an imminent kidnapping. George Becker is an ordinary Illinois businessman, but his concern is far from ordinary. While Eddie is used to dealing with Colombians, the story George tells is not your usual threaten and demand scenario. Missing time, the car engine going out on stretches of open road. But Eddie can fix anything if he applies himself.

How he does so, and how Smith tells the story is a joy to behold. Smith's prose is smooth and easy to read, but evocative. He nails his characters with a few phrases and keeps the dialogue tight and focused. He creates a real world that's just like the one the reader's chair occupies. And he brings stuff into that world that is wilder than anything the reader can imagine.

'The Vaccinator' is on the short side of the PS Publishing range, but the story is full and satisfying, so much so that most readers will hope to get another chance to see Eddie Kruger at work. Alas, more so than other titles, this novella is seriously out of print in both the trade paperback and the hardcover editions. Readers should send generous thanks to Victor Gollancz, who publish it in hard cover with three other PS Publishing novella under the title 'Foursight', and as part of the Binary series, backed with the wonderful Kim Newman novella 'Andy Warhol's Dracula'.