A while back I had the honour of having both a short story and a small book review published in the inaugural issue of The Bolo Tie Collective’s annual anthology. While the short story casts a dark shadow on Edmonton’s 104th Avenue, the book review below takes a lighter approach to local author Liam Leroux’s short publication, Ostrich MgQuarck is the Worst Detective in the World.
Book Review by Jessica Barratt (Originally published in The Bolo Tie Collective Anthology)
You’d think a couple of typos might put a person off any book, but Liam Leroux’s Ostrich MgQuarck is the Worst Detective in the World is quite playfully brilliant in that these small imperfections only add to the work’s genius. But don’t let its playfulness fool you: there’s gore, there’s intrigue, and worst of all: there are rubber boots.
Ostrich MgQuarck is an ostrich, naturally; however, Leroux doesn’t allow readers to enter into an imaginary world where birds talk and expertly solve crimes. Instead, audiences are propelled into an absurd reality, where one lucky ostrich has beaten all the odds against him – he can’t talk, or understand English – and has found success as, you guessed it, the worst detective in the world (not that he likes it very much).
The short, or as Leroux refers to it, the “novel” (by twitter’s standards), is broken into four chapters and an epilogue, and presents itself in a brave new style which has only been said to exist online. Yet, Leroux – with the help of a few of his own “quarcky” illustrations – has managed to escape from the cage of social media, and bring this project into the hands of the people. You can even snail mail it to your friends!
It is quite the feat, yes, that Leroux has managed to compact four unique stories, seven absurd characters, and a whole lot of slaughter into less than 40 pages. But for every dark twist that readers inevitably find, there is an equal and opposing force of what can almost be called slap-stick comedy, courtesy of Lieutenant Jorgensen and his unnamed superior, who’s always saying something like: “Keep an open mind here, Lieutenant. MgQuarck might be our only chance”.
And that’s just what readers should do before they read Leroux’s work: keep an open mind. Nothing in the narrative can said to be cliché, and its style is certainly unfamiliar. Yet, there is something within its pages that seems to embody the cheeky wit of a Twitter/ Tumblr generation, and thus speaks to an audience who’s looking to mash their love of scrolling with their nostalgia for a good, solid book. As such, this reader thinks the book is worth every one of the ten minutes it’ll take you to read Ostrich MgQuarck is the Worst Detective in the World.