Review by Roz Gibson
The Album of Dr. Moreau is a very standard whodunit where some of the characters are furry. That being said, the background premise is actually kind of intriguing. The story takes place in 2000. Some years earlier, five human/animal hybrids suddenly turn up in Ecuador after being rescued at sea, escapees from a secret government lab. They’re recruited by a very sleazy individual who turns them into a hugely popular boy band called WyldBoyZ. Like The Beatles and every other boy band since, each character has a role—the ocelot hybrid is the cute one, the elephant is the smart one, the pangolin the shy one, the bat the funny one and the bonobo the romantic one.
While they’re playing in Las Vegas, the sleazy manager ends up dead, torn to pieces in his bed after a night of wild partying. The ocelot was not only in the room, but in the same bed, with claws that could inflict that damage. Unfortunately for him, he was so wasted on drugs and alcohol he has no memory of the night before. When the policewoman assigned to investigate the murder digs deeper, she finds that the manager was such a loathsome individual that every single member of the band, along with the guy’s wife, the main roadie, and the band’s rabid fans, all had a reason to want the guy dead.
The book goes to great lengths to point out that the band’s fans are NOT furries, but call themselves “Zoomies” or “Zoomandos.” As the head of the fan club explains:
”The proper term is ‘zoomandos.’ We’re adult fans of the WyldBoyZ, separate from kidfans, but also distinct from furry fandom in general. Though you don’t have to wear a fursuit to be a zoomando—“
Like furries, the zoomandos wear tails and elaborate animal costumes, and judge each other by the quality of their custom-made suits. When, during the investigation, the police think a disgruntled fan may have killed the manager, the other fans at the party point out the suspect was wearing a store-bought suit. That automatically means it wasn’t a ‘real’ fan. So while the author was bending over backwards to let everyone know he wasn’t actually writing about furries, he sure did his homework on the suiting culture.
Luce, the detective in charge of the investigation, finds herself in an awkward position because her young daughter is a huge fan of the WyldBoyZ. When she finds out her mom just arrested her favorite band member, it doesn’t go well for the mother-daughter relationship. As Luce delves deeper into the case more of the band’s early background is revealed, and it’s interesting stuff, if somewhat improbable.
Even if you’re not a fan of whodunits (and I’m not) The Album of Dr. Moreau is an entertaining read. In this era of epics and endless series, it’s refreshingly short and self-contained. Which in a way is too bad, because I’d really like to read more about what happens to these characters in the future.