Mercury Falls, by Robert Kroese
If Douglas Adams had written about the Apocalypse, it might go something like this: some unsuspecting schlub gets caught up in the middle of the end of the universe, guided only by a know-it-all somewhat-fallen angel, with a befuddled dork who’s just been selected as the Antichrist.
Now, Robert Kroese has actually written this story, and it actually works. Really well.
Christine Temetri is a disgruntled reporter who’s been covering every sort of wild-haired apocalyptic prophet who keeps predicting the end of the world. And she’s tired of doing it. But her boss at the faith-based newspaper sends her on one more assignment to the Middle East, where she gets caught in the middle of a bombing and starts worrying about the weird pattern in the new tile floor going into her apartment.
Into this mix: the fallen angel Mercury, who’s been laying lowing playing ping-pong. When Christine arrives with a briefcase from a dead Israeli general, Mercury’s house is obliterated in a pillar of fire, putting them both on the run.
I could go on about the plot, but then what would be the point of you reading it?
Let’s say it includes an Antichrist who’d feel at home with Bill & Ted, several fallen angels who want to avoid the apocalypse like the plague (which is actually in one of those cases…), a religious zealot who feels called to denounce the Antichrist (when he’s actually just accidentally tuned into the Angel Band and listening to a drunk angel in Cork, Ireland…), and a Devil whose plan to take over the Mundane Plane includes a chain of Charlie’s Grill fast food restaurants, which held the contest to choose the Antichrist based on a series of novels similar to the Harry Potter books – which happen to have been part of Satan’s plan to —
Oh wait. I’m going on about the plot again.
Mercury Falls is a fun, trippy yarn, and I grumbled every time I had to put it down to go to the day job. Kroese does such a great job juggling so many balls in the air, and every setup has a payoff. Narrative structure is solid, and the characters are fun. I even like the Antichrist in a “I really like not liking this guy” kind of way. Mercury is Ford Prefect’s distant cousin, in terms of style and tone and tongue planted firmly in cheek.
The descriptions are vivid. The prose is fun. The humor is just the right amount of snark mixed with boojum.
Go get this book so you know what’s going on in the sequel.