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Bob Becomes an Agent (Bad Luck Bob, #1) by P.J. Cruz 

A fast and fun spoof of the spy thriller genre featuring an engaging but clueless main character! 

Bob Johnson, an eager, aspiring actor, takes a job as an extra on what he believes is a pilot for a new television comedy. Still, when he and his friend, Moni, arrive on set with hundreds of hopefuls, the Old West location and setup are downright strange. A large number of “actors” wearing black suits, white button-down shirts, and ties are everywhere, but there’s no script or visible cameras. When the director calls “Action,” the flying bullets and resulting injuries appear a little too real, even for movie magic. 

However, Bob takes this all in stride and tries to do his best before the cameras (which he is still unable to locate) and perhaps stand out from the crowd and hopefully attract additional work on a bigger project. During a particularly chaotic action sequence, he’s rescued by the attractive, blond “Actor Sol,” who Bob is dying to get to know better. But the day ends before he gets up the nerve to ask her out, and he heads back to Central City on the production bus he rode in on but is exhausted from the odd day. He falls asleep only to awaken on the empty bus parked inside a huge warehouse. Black-suited men in the warehouse tell him he’s late for a briefing, and Bob believes he’s been retained for additional days of filming. The truth of the matter is hiding right in front of his eyes. 

Bob Becomes an Agent is a fast and fun novella that introduces the characters and premise of author P.J. Cruz’s superhero/supervillain spoof series Bad Luck Bob. With amazing gadgets and weaponry all themed to complement the mission of the super-secret government agency, C.L.E.A.N., to fight the supervillains of D.I.R.T., I smiled through the entire clever tale. 

The main character, Bob Johnson, is wholesome and earnest in his desire to become a successful actor, and he’s already invested quite a lot in the pursuit, having left a lucrative career and lifestyle behind him to do so. Now in his 30s, he’s anxious to do well and ease his parents’ worries that he’s made a terrible mistake. I enjoyed the premise that he is so deeply committed to this path that even when presented with clear evidence that he’s not actually filming a television show, he continues to buy in to the cover story. I liked that pals from his past played a part in the bigger story. D.I.R.T.’s evil plan was ridiculously over the top but fun, yet there were aspects of a Big Brother nature that ring true today. I enjoyed Bob’s “Ninja Warrior-style” test for acceptance into the agency. 

Location descriptions may have been a little light; however, I got a clear enough picture of where the action occurred. Things happen so fast, though, that I don’t know if there was really time or a need to elaborate without throwing off the pace. The author takes the cliché of a villain’s lair and makes improvements that perfectly fit the theme, and the appearance of a work gelato bar was fun. 

When the mission is completed, there are still some loose ends that could make for nice jumping-off spots for future adventures. I’m glad that book two of the series is already available for pre-order, so I can follow up on how Bob is doing later. 

I recommend BOB BECOMES AN AGENT to readers who enjoy spoofs of the spy/thriller genre. 

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

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