I really hated John Swartzwelder’s The Time Machine Did It. Which was disappointing, because I’d read an interview with him—he was a writer on The Simpsons during the show’s stronger years—and he was funny in the interview, and mentioned that he’d written some comedic detective novels. I’m always on the lookout for good humor writing, so I checked out the first one.

The thing about humor is that when it works, it’s hilarious, but when it doesn’t work… ugh. And this just didn’t work. I can see where the humor was supposed to be; I can even see how this is the same guy who was funny in that interview. But the kind of deadpan comments that are funny in an interview fall flat in fiction, or at least they did for me now. There’s a part of me that suspects that if I’d read this a quarter century ago, I would have found it hilarious; but I don’t have the time machine to test that claim.

If you want to read a comedic time travel detective story, I promise you that Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a zillion times better than this. Not recommended.


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