BOOK REVIEW: Elephant Vice by Chris Meekings

Elephant Vice

The son of the Mayor of Maybe Beach, Oscar Dumps, has been murdered by being feed an overdose of a new drug called “****.” Detective Vincent Van Gogh, former painter, is assigned to track down the culprits. With the help of his new partners, the Hindu god Ganesha and his acolyte and chauffeur Trish.

“Van Gogh’s mind flashed. He remembered the brush in his hand. The smell of the crab as it lay on the table, upturned, it’s (sic) clawed feet curled into its abdomen. He remembered the stink of the fish market where he’d bought it. The hardness of the wood on which he’d placed it. The waft of the garlic he’d bought at the same time.”

Elephant Vice reminds me most of the original Roger Rabbit novel. A crime story with an odd high concept basis. In this case, a buddy cop story with Vincent Van Gogh and Ganesha. It builds a world just as odd as the concept. The world of Maybe Beach is full of drugs that transforms people’s bodies, magic paintings, mutant crabs, and flamingo henchmen.

Chris Meekings’s writing moves between a straightforward, albeit very strange, crime story and a more psychedelic and vivid style of writing. By themselves, these sections of the book are very strong. Meekings shows a broad range in his writing ability.

The problem is that it doesn’t come together as a whole as well as it could. The story starts off odd and becomes more surreal as it moves along. It doesn’t transition smoothly. The narrative remains third person, but jumps between Van Gogh and Ganesha in a jarring manner.

For example, one of the plot points is that Van Gogh falls for Ganesha’s acolyte Trish, and becomes devastated when he discovers she’s sleeping with Ganesha. This would have had more impact if Ganesha didn’t reveal this to the reader before Van Gogh found out. This is also an important part of the plot, but it’s unconvincing. The relationship between Van Gogh and Trish is far too underdeveloped for as important as it’s treated.


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