Nineteen years ago I read Pest Control, a madcap thriller that all starts when Bob Dillon, sick of chemical pesticides, breeds some special exterminating bugs and runs an ad, naming himself The Exterminator. For some reason, it was perceived as an ad for a hitman. This led to mayhem. It was hysterically funny and I have never forgotten it. I was chatting books with my best friend the other day and asked is she remembered it, which got us to wondering if the author had written more books. Wow, has he!! She stopped by the library the next day and picked up the sequel, The Exterminators and said she really liked it. I was still a bit chary of reading it since nothing could match the original, but then I saw Bob had moved with his family and Klaus, his partner, to Corvallis, Oregon. Well, of course, I had to read it then.
I am glad I did.The Exterminators opens when Bob and Klaus are looking for some venture capital and, as luck would have it, sends it to a front for DARPA, a favorite agency for conspiracy thrillers because it’s quite secretive. Bob and Klaus want to make some assassin bugs to kill other bugs…while DARPA suggests developing some assassin bugs to kill Osama. The games begin.
Of course, what happens when a government agency gets involved is forms are filled out and files are created and information leaks, which leads to their nemesis from book one discovering they are alive and faked their deaths. Time to send out another batch of hired assassins to kill them. Meanwhile, their boss at DARPA has some ulterior motives and different priorities that he hid from everyone. Chaos ensues.
I enjoyed The Exterminators, but it is definitely a book two. Sequels are hard if your series is not a procedural with the same people in the same situation from book to book. For this book, the new situation must be created and explained. This book is just so very, very Book Two at the beginning, but once it establishes itself it moved quickly.
The book is full of the clever quips and humor that made Pest Control so delightful with even more wild and crazy stunts. It is cinematic in its reach and that makes sense, one of the characters is writing a screen play. The satire is obvious and contemporary media is skewered without mercy. Who is being skewered is equally obvious with Matt Christopher of HardHeads on MSCBN. Winston Archer’s followers say Amen instead of Ditto, but he’s the contemporary hate-mongering rightwing radio blowhard to a T. There’s a Times reporter named Judy, not Judith, who will sell a false narrative to protect those in power. It’s pretty obvious. There are so many bad actors, from drug cartels to apocalyptic megachurches planning to push the Second Coming button. It’s mayhem and madness and of course, great fun.