Friday, May 26, 2017

The Unlikely Adventures of Race & Cookie McCloud: Volume 1 by Tom Hoefner

The Unlikely Adventures of Race & Cookie McCloud: Volume 1
by Tom Hoefner
Illustrated by  Kevin Gillespie

A superhero with anger management issues! A living stone idol with a love for pop-culture trivia! Fist-pumping vampires! These are but a few of the nefarious (and ridiculous) challenges facing awful private investigator Race McCloud and his teenaged niece, all-star spy-in-training Cookie McCloud, as they scour the globe in search of their missing secret agent family. Stuck together by Cookie’s parents under the pretense of ‘babysitting’ (who is sitting for whom is left largely unclarified), the pair find themselves the target of special forces who are out to capture Cookie and KILL RACE! With nowhere left to turn, they seek the aid of Green Suit Jacket Man, the night-stalking vigilante that Race has been hunting for six months and that Cookie finds in one night. With the hero’s reluctant support, the dysfunctional duo are off! To find Cookie’s parents, spies of a Bond-ian sort! To find Margolis McCloud, a tomb-raiding treasure hunter! To find Nyte McCloud, a monster slayer and practitioner of badassery! Through it all, our two heroes must figure out why the military is so hellbent on capturing Cookie, how to act like partners and, most of all, how to be a family.

My Take:
If you like adventure stories with nonstop action, werewolves, vampires, zombies, mafia, superpowers, gadgetry, lost civilizations, mummy curses, and ninja skills, this one's for you.

When Race McCloud, private eye, agrees to babysit his sixteen-year-old niece Cookie, he knows it's not going to be an easy task - after all, she's in training to be a super-spy like her parents, and all of her extended family as well. And the clandestine way her parents dropped her off, with strict instructions not to take her back to 'school', make it clear that somebody's coming to get her, and probably kill Race in the bargain. Without the protection of her spy extended family, I might add... all of whom seem to excel at something exciting and deadly.

The only, well, reasonably 'normal' one in the family is Race, a never-even-has-been with a penchant for collecting useless bits of trivia on comic books and video games, who lives in a hovel rent-free as the janitor. Yeah, THAT guy.

With the help of the mysterious hero Green Suited Jacket Man, who Race has been hunting for six months, and who Cookie finds in one night, they attempt to stay at least one step ahead of their pursuers as they attempt to reassemble their over-powered family and save the world.


Drug Content:
PG - Several scenes in this book occur in a nightclub where there is some drinking.

PG - Like in any YA Spy novel, there's quite a bit, but not gratuitous or explicit in its description. Bones are snapped, jaws are broken, some thugs get killed. Lots of high-velocity chases and some explosions occur. A lot of violence is done to a werewolf and a bar full of vampires.

PG - I don't recall any swear words at all, except perhaps the D-word tossed in a couple times, but nothing that I took note of.

Adult Content:
PG - I would have kept this at G, but there are a few innuendos tossed around and some mention of a gay vampire, and a few scantily clad succubusses. There's also some discourse about the objectifying of women and a brief discussion about the physical discomforts of females battling without proper attire.

Christian content:
Apart from some mention of holy water and silver crosses, and a slight nod to a side character who if I remember correctly is a priest, there's no mention of scripture or prayer anywhere. The characters depend solely on their own admittedly adequate power to overcome significant obstacles. There's no real discourse on life after death or a higher power.

However, Race tries very hard to be a protector for his niece, and in his bumbling way is clearly depicted as better than the rest of his amazing family. Cookie begins the novel with nothing but contempt for him but in the end realizes his true value and character. Issues like character, diligence, family, self-sacrifice, and consequences, are pretty well depicted here, in a manner that, after the laughter dies down, will make you think.

Final analysis:
Race and Cookie make an unlikely 'odd couple' but the combination works wonders not only for the plot but the flow. Their interactions are priceless, and Race plays the part of comedy relief well. The author transitions him smoothly into the part of a real three-dimensional hero. Pace, setting, world-building, action, dialog - it's a solid, complete package of fun as a fast-paced laugh-a-minute getaway.
The book was well-edited and kept my attention pretty much cover to cover. Five Stars!

About the Author:
Tom Hoefner is a writer, director, and teacher (not necessarily in that order) who lives in Brooklyn with his wife Jaime, his daughters Gabby and Audrey, and their cat Zelda. In his spare time he stages college and high school musicals, plays too much Nintendo, and roots for the Mets.

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