SFF

The Imaginary Corpse

Angry Robot. Sept. 2019. 400p. ISBN 9780857668318. pap. $12.99; ebk. ISBN 9780857668325. FANTASY
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DEBUT Good ideas never really fade: they go to a place called the Stillreal. There, daydreams, nightmares, and imaginary friends—concepts rejected by their previous human owners—can live and discover a new sense of purpose. It’s also where we meet Tippy, a stuffed yellow triceratops who is Playtime Town’s best detective, often found downing root beer sundaes after tough cases and enjoying extended cycles in the dryer. However, when a mysterious being, quickly dubbed the Man in the Coat violates the laws of the Stillreal and starts killing residents, Tippy takes the case. This hard-boiled detective story set in an imaginary high-concept world feels like Pixar’s “Toy Story” movies scripted by Dashiell Hammett, but Hayes handles this narrative with style, wit, and an emotional seriousness that belies the cartoonish premise, as Tippy must enlist a wide cast of characters to assist with the various arms of the investigation and use empathy to confront serious issues of abandonment and trauma.
VERDICT This special and distinct novel will be enjoyed by fans of genre-bending tales and literary mashups, excellent for admirers of Jasper Fforde or Neil Gaiman.

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