The first two books in Robert Asprin’s PHULE’S COMPANY series, Phule’s Company and Phule’s Paradise, were fairly amusing and worth my time, especially in the audio formats that have been recently produced by Tantor Audio. However, this third book, A Phule And His Money, which was co-written with Peter J. Heck, was sadly lacking in the qualities that made the previous novels so much fun.
The story begins immediately after the events of Phule’s Paradise. The gang has just saved the Fat Chance Casino from a mob takeover. Life for Captain Phule and his troops seems to be going well for only a brief period of time before all hell breaks loose again. The Japanese Mafia is after Sushi (the Japanese soldier), a biker gang is after Chocolate Harry (the Black soldier), the IRS is after Phule, there’s a lizard-like alien sneaking around, and there’s a batch of new recruits to train including some feline aliens, a Hindu who thinks everything is transitory, and a new chaplain with an Elvis fetish.
Then General Blitzkrieg, who is intent on humiliating Phule, sends the company on a peace-keeping mission to a planet where the government is being harried by rebel forces. This happens to be the same planet where Phule got in trouble before he was assigned to captain the “losers and misfits” that are now Phule’s elite fighting force. Phule is only supposed to keep peace but of course he jumps right in to solve all the planet’s problems in his usual manner — throwing millions of dollars at them.
I was expecting A Phule And His Money to be silly and implausible but I was also expecting it to be entertaining and funny. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. I don’t know if Asprin’s conceit has run itself out or if the addition of a co-author is the problem, but this book is a sad decline from the previous books in the series. The jokes were dumb, the story was pointless, every character is a cliché, and the Elvis allusions were painful. The writing style was also annoying at times (I suspect the co-author).
I can’t recommend A Phule And His Money for the story, but I’d like to say that Tantor Audio’s new production is excellent. Noah Michael Levine gives another impressive performance. The audiobook is just over 8 hours long.