Author Scott A. Combs sets his novel Murder on Euripides aboard a luxurious star cruiser, which also plays host to the activities of various inter-galactic diplomats. When an anonymous threat is made against the lives of these high-profile dignitaries, legendary detective Sir Giles Thackery is revived to unmask the culprit. His sidekick is Nanette, a deadly SLASP agent, who just happens to be his granddaughter many times removed. As the body count rises, some of the cruisers question whether Sir Giles is up to the task and Nanette is distracted by a handsome young purser.
As a parody, Murder on Euripides blends the familiar format of a Sherlock Holmes style investigator with the luridly exotic setting of a space opera. If you like meeting aliens, you are in for a treat, since there is a virtual rainbow of skin hues and plenty of tentacles, eyestalks and more to gawk at. Pace is somewhat sacrificed for puns and gags. You will encounter many familiar tropes, ranging from personal spaceships that behave like cranky 20th century automobiles to murder clues sourced from 20th century pop culture. The story has a distinctly cinematic feel - probably because it draws inspiration from the likes of Mel Brooks and Peter Sellers. There are a few caveats. Unless you are able to cultivate a fairly strong suspension of disbelief, a few of the unlikelier plot twists may lose you and there are several moderately disturbing scenarios - it is a murder mystery, after all. I did feel that some plot points were under-explored. While Nanette's belated discovery of her femininity was realistically handled, I still have a few questions regarding the true nature of Roderick the valet - is he really human, for instance? There seems to be more to him than meets the eye. Overall, though, kudos to Scott A. Combs for a fun read and hopefully we will encounter Sir Giles again, perhaps with a different descendant to assist him next time around.