Review: Nothing Happens Here by DJ Lane

Nothing Happens Here is a tale set in the relatively quiet town of Upper Hutt where a personal investigator is required to find three garden gnomes filled with deadly viruses and an antidote. It is the job of Veronica (Ronnie), the personal investigator, to replace the gnomes with fake replicas and give the originals to her customer, an American actor. Dead bodies pop up periodically, and Ronnie must avoid becoming one herself.

The Good:
I loved the fact that the story was based in my own home town. Obviously, most books are not centred in Upper Hutt, and I usually skim-read whether a vet practice is next to a pharmacy, or how roads are laid out. Not this time! It made me linger over Lane’s descriptions of streets and gardens, triggering memories here, wanting to check details there. It was a pleasure buried deep in my subconscious seeing the light of day only when the author took me down familiar paths.

Another prominent and interesting feature was the number of mistakes. One or two errors in a book will raise an eyebrow, but when they are everywhere (up to six on a single page), I became highly amused. Apparently this has already been rectified with a reprint. I am therefore hoping my copy will be worth millions of dollars – all offers are welcome.

The Not So Good:
Although Lane’s attention to detail was astounding, it became almost OCD in nature, to the point of irritation. A large amount of space was given to how Ronnie attached her dog to its harness. Three ladies were waiting in a car, and instead of simply turning the air-conditioning on, it was done to eighteen degrees AND so that it was neither too warm, too chilly, or too drafty. A night-time excursion resulted in Ronnie realising her torch was missing, and she used another instead. None of these minutiae had any importance or relevance to the main plot or even the subplots.

The Beautiful:
I very much enjoyed Ronnie’s Nana, who I suspect is like grandmothers everywhere. She tries to marry her grandchildren (homosexual or not) to respectable partners of the opposite gender. I’m sure many an adult has had to endure interference from their elders on the subject of love, a universally understood problem for grandchildren worldwide. Nana may not have the caustic wit of the Dowager Duchess from Downton Abbey, but she is still a fantastic character, meddling and interfering where she can. I particularly liked Lane’s incredibly realistic description of a (very) mature person struggling to cope with modern technology. (Extract below.)

Lane has a lovely, very dry sense of humour peppered throughout the book. All in all, very entertaining, and I’m glad I read it.

Order Nothing Happens Here from us now. RRP $27

An excert:

Fifteen new emails seemed a bit crazy. Scrolling through them both amused and terrified me. Someone, let’s blame my cousin Donald, had set Nana up an email account. Great. That’s what I need. Spam from my ninety-four year old Nana.
I groaned.
All the subject headings were ‘Is this working?’
Ignoring them was clearly not an option.
I picked up my cell phone and text messaged Donald: ‘What have you done?’
He replied while I was reading all the mail from Nana: ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’
And yet I had trouble believing him.
I texted him back: ‘I’m talking about Nana emailing me. How is this possible?’
The emails were almost identical in content. Nana wanted Romeo and I to visit today. Great, I was already planning on seeing her at midday.
My phone chirped again. Donald replied: ‘I gave her my old laptop. Thought she’d enjoy the wireless internet they have at the retirement home.’
No, he didn’t think. No thought happened there.
Another email arrived. I replied to Nana and told her Romeo and I would be there at midday. Then I replied to Donald via text: ‘You’ll keep!’
A nana with email capability was not ideal.
My Nana with Wi-Fi was definitely not ideal.

Nothing Happens Here RRP $27

Nothing Happens