Friday, 1 January 2010

Quid Pro Quo by Manna Francis (Part 1)

Quid Pro Quo is the second in The Administration Series by Manna Francis. It consists of the novella Quid Pro Quo and the short stories - Friday, Pancakes, Surprises, Family and Mirror, Mirror. As some of the stories have a lot going on it's going to take more than one post to review the book. So today will be the novella Quid Pro Quo and the short story Friday and over the next couple of days I'll cover the remaining short stories.

The Administration Series is one that really needs to be read in order as the relationship between Warrick and Toreth deepens over the course of the books. So I'd recommend you read Mind Fuck (Book 1) before starting Quid Pro Quo.

Quid Pro Quo focusses more on an investigation by Toreth into corporate kidnappings with Warrick only appearing briefly during the story, though more signifcantly at the beginning and the end. Whilst QPQ is perhaps my least favourite of the stories in the selection I think it's important as it fleshes out the worldbuilding. There's a sense of rigid structure controlled by something unseen - you never see the head of the monster - the power of the corporations is clear, but the Administration itself is shadowy. QPQ also gives us an insight into how the relationship between Toreth and Warrick is working.

The story opens with Toreth having broken Warrick's wrist during one of their sex games. This necessitates a trip to the hospital, where Toreth flirts with the nurses and manages to get a date with one, who when she asks him why he's there...
"I was fucking a guy, and I broke his wrist." Her eyes widened and he shook his head. "It was an accident. He fell off a chair. Actually, the chair fell over, and he was handcuffed to it..."
Toreth is nothing if not honest, though he's not above prevaricating or lying (either by omission or directly), whichever works best for the situation.

What's great about this story is the expansion of the relationship between Sara (Toreth's admin) and Toreth. You see that there is someone who thinks about him, and she is probably the person he is closest to. As close as he can be.

The mystery itself I found a little complex. I had to read through a couple of times before I got what was going on set in my head. In a way that serves to illustrate the complex nature of the world, where everything works in layers - Administration/Corportation/Administration/Corporation - the monster is multi-headed.

(If you didn't pick up on it in Mind Fuck Toreth's drowning phobia is mentioned again here.)

The short story Friday is one of my favourites. It's told from Warrick's point of view which we haven't really experienced up until now. Friday is the day that Warrick and Toreth meet up to have sex. Not every Friday but often enough that it is something Warrick is starting to look forward to. He talks of the anticipation having an element of ritual to it. You can see how this appeals to Warrick's organisational side.

We meet Cele - Warrick's childhood friend - for the first time, and more importantly we hear about Dillian (Warrick's sister) via Cele. She asks about the bruises on his face. It's clear that Warrick has people who are concerned about him. Not only family but friends. In sharp contrast with Toreth in the previous story who really only has Sarah (his admin) and a series of anonymous one night stands.

Cele also highlights to Warrick that it could be significant that he's started baking again - the last time he did so was when he was married. And Warrick starts thinking.
What the hell am I doing with him?
Warrick does not deny what Toreth is.
A lover he wanted to keep away from everyone he knew. A man who smiled while he hit him. A murderer.
He also knows that he can't stay away from Toreth. He doesn't want to give him up. He just needs to find a way to handle it.

What we have in Friday is our first real peek into Warrick's head. At this point in the relationship it seems that all the power lies with Toreth. One of the reasons I find this series so fascinating is how your perceptions change the more you read. And why I recommend it highly.

Two more stories tomorrow.


Kris said...

I wasn't sure about this initially because it consisted of a number of short stories, but I'm really intrigued by your description of the way the relationships develop as well as getting Warrick's POV.

*sigh* Thank God I didn't make any resolutions about watching my spending on books.

Thanks. I guess.

LesleyW said...

Kris - lol you're welcome. The reason I think it works is because each story builds on what has gone before. So it's not like reading a series of disconnected stories, but rather reading chapters of one continuous story.