Eddie Robson’s Drunk on All Your Strange New Words is a locked room mystery in a near future world of politics and alien diplomacy.
Lydia works as translator for the Logi cultural attaché to Earth. They work well together, even if the act of translating his thoughts into English makes her somewhat wobbly on her feet. She’s not the agency’s best translator, but what else is she going to do? She has no qualifications, and no discernible talent in any other field.
So when tragedy strikes, and Lydia finds herself at the center of an intergalactic incident, her future employment prospects look dire—that is, if she can keep herself out of jail!
But Lydia soon discovers that help can appear from the most unexpected source…
Drunk On All Your Strange New Words is a fantastic cocktail of mystery, humour, and speculation. It tackles heady issues of prejudice and bigotry while never failing to entertain, and makes for a compelling, intoxicating read.
In a future Manhattan, the Logi live among humans. They’re a brilliantly rendered alien race who communicate telepathically in their own language. Certain humans can be trained to translate the Logi’s thoughts into human speech, but translation comes with a side-effect. It gets you drunk. I would’ve been happy just reading about this intriguing future, filled with gorgeous little details that make the world really pop. But when Lydia’s boss is found murdered and she’s the only witness, but she’s so drunk from translating that she can’t remember what happened, the story kicks up a gear, and it rides on the adrenaline of that mystery all the way to the final page.
The thing I loved most about the book is the main character. Lydia is from Yorkshire, and she grew up in a city not far from where I was raised. Reading her story was like going home for me. Her voice and perspective reminded me of so many people, so my fondness for her runs very, very deep. Her phrases and attitude and general ballsy bluster just made me constantly smile from the inside out. It struck a chord, and really elevated the book for me.
The way the plot unfolds is skilfully done. There are enough red herrings to leave you scratching your head. And the final resolution is satisfying and surprising. The whole book is surprising. Beneath the whimsy and imagination that makes up this world and these characters, there’s a dark undercurrent which points a spotlight on racism, privacy, and corruption. But it’s handled so delicately that it never feels heavy or out of place. The narrative doesn’t falter in its tone, and so the questions raised by the book don’t come with the intention of walloping you across the face. If anything, they creep up on you by surprise.
I was so impressed by the balance and the scope that this book achieved. It’s got a charm and a character all of its own, and it’s not like anything else out there. Imagine a Red Dwarf version of a young Miss Marple and you’d probably be on the right track. It could easily be called a murder mystery, a domestic thriller, a comedy, a character study, a social commentary, a cautionary tale, and the list goes on. But it somehow manages to tie all these aspects together without feeling scatty, and what results is a joy to read. It’s pure entertainment, and overall, a lot of fun.
Drunk On All Your Strange New Words is a tipsy delight of a novel that left me giggling and giddy. The protagonist is an absolute legend, and the story is definitely binge-worthy. I lapped it up, and I’ll probably get a hangover now that it’s finished, but it was so worth it! The concepts and future it depicts translates into a funny, sweet, and addictive story, and I’d very much like another round.
Published by TorDotCom. Available now