Part of a series of reviews of works produced by TRU-housed publisher CiCAC Press
Mark Hendricks, Science & Technology Editor Ω
Betting Zoo is Cory Hope’s first outing as a professional author. It’s a satirical look at office intrigue, and while the premise of the book asks for some suspension of disbelief, and the writing could use some editing, it provides an enjoyable read for anyone looking for some light fiction.
The story centers on Frank Heatley and his company, the Heatley Corporation. Heatley is a reclusive shut-in and the Heatley Corporation uses this seclusion to declare Heatley dead and oust him from control of the company. This begins a conspiracy that is the cornerstone of the book.
The conspiracy is also the part of the book that requires the greatest suspension of disbelief. The idea of staging Heatley’s death, creating elaborate fake rooms, permanently vacating the top three floors of the office and hiring a squad of secret enforcers just to cover up the titular “betting zoo” doesn’t seem to make sense from a logical point of view.
The book’s title is a reference to the plan for a television show that would pit shelter animals set to be euthanized against large, predatory zoo animals in an effort to see how long they can survive. The idea being that this plan will make more than enough money to compensate any additional expenses imposed by the elaborate cover-up.
This was the biggest problem I had with Betting Zoo. The conspiracy that the entire book centers around seems completely unnecessary, and is focused around creating something that would be shut down immediately as soon as it aired on television.
Despite this, I enjoyed the book. The strong characters carry the book through and kept me reading. From lazy, sometimes useless Heatley, to crotchety, self-righteous Edna, who should be in jail based on the way she acts in the book, the characters provide the enjoyment of the book. I found myself continuing to read as I wanted to find out what happened to these conflicting characters caught up in the conspiracy.
The book also plays on traditional anti-corporate tropes, such as the “immortal-soul clause” in the contracts, or the large company buying up all the establishments in the town.
Betting Zoo provided a quick, enjoyable read, and as long as you don’t take it too seriously, it is a fun companion for some weekend reading.