“The Outlaw Gillis Kerg” by Mike Murphey

The Outlaw Gillis Kerg

Mike Murphey
Acorn Publishing (2022)
ISBN: 979-8885280198
Reviewed by Rachel Deeming for Reader Views (11/22)

“The Outlaw Gillis Kerg,” the fourth book in Murphey’s “Physics, Lust and Greed” series is an energetic tale which follows time-traveling federal agents as they try to thwart threats from other parallel universes from the future. It’s not as confusing as it sounds. Despite the title, we mainly follow Marta and Marshall, two possibly retired agents, starting in the Caribbean who are then brought back to America as a threat from the future makes itself manifest.

The action begins with Marta and Marshall relaxing on a boat and pondering their future after the events of the previous book. I have to admit that I have not read any previous books in the series, but I was able to pick up the gist of what the series is about and the dynamics between the characters from very early on. I think that one of the strengths of Murphey’s book is the characterization through his dialogue which is constructed with wit and awareness, so that there is a clear idea of who people are and their relationships to each other – they come alive.

Gillis Kerg is another key character, although I thought that the book might have centered more on him. However, he was very much part of the book and was a major player in one of my favorite scenes of the book, at a Vegas casino.

This is a book that does not take itself too seriously; and yet, there is a lot of serious content within it. Firstly, to deal with what makes it feel light: Murphey includes evolving AI which gleans information from a variety of sources like Shakespeare and Wikipedia, and which does not always have a good relationship with its nominated human controller, giving the text comedy moments. The idea that something which should be super intelligent can be petulant, stubborn and militant reminded me of other science fiction creations such as “Red Dwarf” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in the tone and subversiveness. Add this to witty dialogue and the well-plotted action and you have a book which entertains.

However, there is a satirical undertone to the whole book. Actually, maybe not an undertone as the parallels with previous presidential slogans and men in power using the tenets of Christianity to dominate rather than promoting goodwill to all men are key components of the discussion of the book. It is intelligent and thoughtful without being too accusatory but the message is there, all the same.

I liked “The Outlaw Gillis Kerg” and there is a high chance that I will seek out the precursors to Book 4 as I seem to have a liking for physics, lust and greed.

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