Dr. No

The phenomenally talented and prolific Percival Everett (So Much BluePercival Everett by Virgil Russell) conducts a highwire act in Dr. No, balancing mathematical theory with deadpan humor over a daunting crevasse of nothing. Fortunately for readers, narrator Wala Kitu is an expert on nothing. But unfortunately for Wala, his expertise attracts the dangerous criminal mastermind John Sill, who wishes to harness the power of nothing for a diabolical plan.

A distinguished professor of mathematics at Brown University, Wala doesn't have a villainous bone in his body. He, like his colleague Eigen Vector, is hopelessly literal and not especially street-smart. He keeps a one-legged bulldog as a companion, whom he calls "Trigo" on account of the three missing limbs; curiously, man and animal converse at great length in Wala's dreams, where Trigo serves as an uncouth voice of reason. "The importance of nothing is that it is the measure of that which is not nothing," Wala says by way of introducing his field of study. "I work very hard and wish I could say that I have nothing to show for it." Sill, on the other hand, is a suave billionaire who is not afraid of killing anyone who stands in his way.

Dr. No is riddled with irresistible wordplay, as again and again characters express their fascination with and desire for nothing. It is an adventure that can be appreciated on any of the numerous levels that Everett is working on. From the unassuming bumbling of a humble mathematician to the provocative consequences of unmitigated power, nothing is quite as enjoyable as Dr. No. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

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