The Bottom Line: A James Bond parody that delivers plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, pulse-pounding action scenes and biting social commentary.
City of Roses Psychiatric Institute patient James Flynn believes he’s a secret agent. Impeccably dressed, Flynn hilariously mistakes the staff for enemy agents and the other patients as operatives enjoying “much-needed R&R.” Naturally, when fellow patient Chloe claims someone is trying to kill her, Flynn is all ears.
The institute staff believes Chloe tried to commit suicide. But Chloe, who is an actress, claims she nearly met her end at the hands of a local cinematographer. What’s more, the assault may have been related to an incident where Chloe accused an Academy Award-winning producer named Goldhammer of drugging and raping her. Flynn takes her at her word and, believing that she’s being held against her will at the institute, waits for the right moment to break her out.
Author Haris Orkin is far from the first gifted storyteller to spoof James Bond, but he’s also taken the art form to new heights. Goldhammer has much in common with Mike Myers’ Austin Powers in Goldmember and the first Johnny English film, written by real-life Bond screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Like those iconic characters, James Flynn possesses an amusing lack of self-awareness, as well as a habit of tangling with real-world villains he’ll never fully understand. It’s a winning combination that results in hilarious misunderstandings and compelling action scenes.
With Goldhammer, Orkin delivers two significant contributions to the Bond parody canon. The first is the completeness of Flynn’s delusion, which creates wholly unique and highly memorable situational comedy. The second is the injection of serious social issues. Themes relating to date rape, sexual harassment, workplace discrimination, homophobia and even data privacy are core to the story. While these issues dampen the book’s overall comedic impact, they also make the concept of evil more contemporary and socially relevant than anything that has come before it.