Hal Spacejock 4: No Free Lunch
I have to admit, I had not read any of the previous books in this series, and so was curious. From the way they are displayed in local bookshops, they look like another in a long line of Hitchhikers' or Discworld hopefuls, with the deliberately silly name of the protagonist suggesting a cartoonish world of exaggerated buffoonery. However, on starting to read, it became clear that it wasn't.Sadly, I can't say I was pleasantly surprised. There was not much in the way of subtle humour, and far too many gags about androids inserting data ports into sockets. (OK, two or three, but still too many.) If it weren't for some of the smuttier jokes, I'd have thought this was a moderately competent Juvenile, but some of the gags, while they will appeal to juveniles, don't seem appropriate. (And the website proclaims that it's not written for children. One would think if you felt the need to state that, you might want to assess what you're doing.)The plot is straightforward enough, hero arrives on planet, gets caught up with local law enforcement officer, and then gets dragged along on her latest (be honest, first) investigation. The relationship that develops between the titular character and his newfound lady friend is rather adolescent in its coyness, which in some ways might be seen as charming, but it does spoil the ending somewhat, particularly as we know this is meant to be an ongoing series. (The author has apparently committed to 15 books, and we're only at number 4...)I'm also sad to report there were very few surprises in store. Subtlety is not a strong point. Not that it has to be, but it can help with a mystery. I suppose it's not meant to be Agatha Christie, but there is no misdirection, and very little suspense.Despite what I say above, I don't hate this book. I don't like it, either, but I didn't want to throw it across the room at any point. (That alone puts it ahead of the Honor Harrington novels.) I just don't find it very satisfying, for a number of reasons. As a result, I don't feel particularly inclined to pick up the next in the series when it comes out.