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Item - The Money Spider

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Series: Webs of Intrigue — no. 1
Translated Into: Pajęcza sieć (Polish)
Authors: Davies, Wilfred
Waterfield, Robin
Illustrators: Barter, Malcolm (interior)
Walker, James (photographer)
Date: 1988
ISBN: 0140323643 / 9780140323641
Length: 280 sections
User Summary: Somebody has planted a bomb just outside the Bank of England. As a private detective, you undertake an international investigation to discover the criminal's identity, motive and opportunity.
Guillermo's Thoughts:

Paul Mason can feel relieved; there is ONE gamebook series released by Puffin that is less well-known than his own Robin of Sherwood. Fighting Fantasy author Robin Waterfield and a friend undertook the task of writing a gamebook series with no rules, aimed at readers slightly older than the usual Puffin audience, and set in the eighties (there are references to the Iron Curtain that make this a distinctive product of its day). Quite a feat if you ask me, and the reasons for its apparent commercial failure couldn't be much more clear. The result, nonetheless, is a very interesting mystery gamebook. In terms of gameplay, it helps debunk the myth that a gamebook with no die rolls cannot be complex or challenging. The challenge in this case involves finding a lot of clues needed to solve the mystery, while avoiding dead-end leads which cause the player to waste time. The amount of options the player is offered may appear to be overwhelming at first, but as the player becomes familiar with the book the correct courses of action become more apparent. The only bookkeeping that is required involves noting down numbers, which represent clues and events.

In terms of story, this book is not for hyperactive children. While it is not devoid of action and suspense, a lot of time is spent investigating and reflecting on clues. If you enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes Solo Mysteries series, this should be right up your alley. Fortunately, the authors wrote using a very concise style reminiscent of Fighting Fantasy. This, coupled with the 11/13 Palatino font, makes the book a very comfortable read. Perhaps the most distinctive feature is the introduction of a recurring villain named (you guessed it) 'The Spider.' Since the series only comprised two volumes it will not take us that long to find out if he can be captured or not.

It may be of interest to readers to know that the illustrator is the mysterious Malcolm Barter, who also did the artwork for The Forest of Doom and whose identity has sparked more doubts than that of Shakespeare. If it helps your curiosity, I can say that if I had to choose between saving the last extant copies of The Forest of Doom and The Money Spider from a fire, based only on the artwork, I would definitely go for the former.

All in all, this is a good gamebook that should provide enough challenge for two or three days. Recommended.

More reviews by Guillermo

Special Thanks:Thanks to Guillermo Paredes for the plot summary.
Users Who Own This Item: Ardennes, dArtagnan, Ed, jdreller, jeremydouglass, juski, katzcollection, knginatl, Malthus Dire, MarcusP, mir1812, mlvoss, Sheridan77, Sir Olli, sireeyore, Vampireman, waktool (UK 1st), Yalius
Users Who Want This Item: Aldrin23, b4x, iguanaditty, Pseudo_Intellectual

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