Peter Ross is an American radiologist and he decides to go on a month-long vacation in Spain to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the medical field. Shortly after arriving he meets Angela Locke on the beach and is later approached by a Spanish man who tells him that if he does the autopsy, he will be killed. Later that night, he is met in his room by four men in suits who basically tell him that if he does not do the autopsy, they will kill him.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, there's little that Peter can do except try to survive. Problem is, he has no idea what's going on, who any of these people are, or what exactly they want. Peter and Angela end up trying to unravel the situation and stay alive long enough to make it home. And since everybody seems to know what's going on except them and nobody's telling them anything, it's going to be a lot harder than they realize to do just that.
Hard Case Crime has put out some very enjoyable novels; sadly, Zero Cool is not one of them. The cover is terrific but everything starts going bad as soon as you open it. We start with a gratuitous prologue and then spend the next 200+ pages with the most unlikable protagonist I've had the displeasure of encountering in a long time. If Peter would have stopped trying to crack jokes and wise off all the time, and if he dropped the tough guy act, it wouldn't have been quite so unbearable. Also, I wanted to scream (actually, I kinda just blurted out obscenities and then went on a 5-minute diatribe) about how Peter might have a clue what was going on if he bothered producing a sentence longer than 2 or 3 words whenever he opened his mouth.
Now keep in mind Zero Cool also has a French-speaking cowboy, an eccentric mathematician, a rich dwarf and a trained assassin bird and you're probably thinking "Wow, how could a book with that kind of craziness be bad?" It is. Thank Peter for that. And since this was originally published in the 60's, there's not much we can do about it now, except maybe spend our money on Christa Faust’s Money Shot instead.
Mass Market Paperback: 219 pages
Publisher: Hard Crime Case (February 26, 2008)