The Hunchback Assignments - Arthur Slade

To be perfectly honest, I'm not even sure how The Hunchback Assignments came to be on my TBR list in the first place. I mean, someone must have recommended it at some point and it stayed there, lurking, till I found that the ebook was on sale and picked it up.

 

As you may have guessed from the title, The Hunchback Assignments features Quasimodo as one of its characters - in this particular story, he's found as a small child being exhibited in a travelling freakshow and bought by Mr Socrates, who has him educated in isolation. Modo, as he is called in this book, doesn't realise that he is being trained to work as a secret agent until the day Mr Socrates takes him away from everything he knows and into London, where he promptly abandons him. Modo's final test is to see if he can survive on his own despite being a teenager in a strange place with no resources at first.

 

Naturally, he manages to do so (otherwise this would be quite a short book) and initially sets himself up as a private investigator. At this point, Modo takes on a client who has asked him to find her brother, though we later discover that she is in fact another of Mr Socrates' agents. The missing 'brother' is involved on the periphery with a scheme where various bad folks are creating a) a mixture that allows someone to be mind-controlled and b) a giant robot powered by people. Since we already have Quasimodo involved here, it should come as no surprise that the main scientist behind all of this is one Dr Hyde, another out-of-copyright character.

 

Anyway, this book might be a little too much in terms of body horror for some people - personally, I found the opening section about experimentation on dogs almost a deal-breaker. By the end of this particular book, since there are more in the series, Modo is falling for his female counterpart who doesn't know that he doesn't look like she thinks he does, as he is able to transform his face into normality for a limited period of time.

 

It's an interesting enough book, though I didn't find it particularly compelling and could easily have put it down at more than one point. The villains are all moustache-twirling evildoers with no clear reason why they're doing what they're doing except that they're evil. The Hunchback Assignments is also another of those books set in London but written by a non-Brit so the occasional thing made me go 'huh?' and jolted me a little out of the plot momentarily. There are more books in this series but I won't be bothering with them, since there's plenty more on my TBR pile that appeals more...