Literature / The Hermux Tantamoq Adventures

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The Hermux Tantamoq Adventures, written by Michael Hoeye, are a series of children's detective novels set in a Mouse World version of a modern-day city. The title character Hermux Tantamoq is a mild-mannered mouse watchmaker and Amateur Sleuth who solves his cases with the help of his pet ladybug Terfle, his love interest Linka Perflinger, his mentor Mirrin Stentrill, and various colorful and endearing friends. His recurring adversary is his neighbor: a vain, self-centered cosmetics tycoon named Tucka Mertslin, whose moneymaking schemes and bad taste in men often land Hermux on her bad side.

There are four books, all idiosyncratically named with titles referring to time:
  1. Time Stops for No Mouse (1999)
  2. The Sands of Time (2001)
  3. No Time Like Show Time (2004)
  4. Time to Smell The Roses (2007)


This series provides examples of:

  • Adorkable: Hermux, especially when Linka is involved.
  • Ace Pilot: Linka Perflinger—adventuress, daredevil and aviatrix.
  • The Beautiful Elite: A lot of page time is spent in the Mouse World's equivalent of high society, with classy, glamorous rodents & other mammals featured in detail. Their main city, Pinchester, is clearly modelled on New York City, particularly Manhattan and the Upper East Side.
  • Blind Seer: Mirrin Stentrill, a blind painter, sees visions of cats but is unable to paint them. After she regains her sight, exhibiting the paintings of these cats causes a citywide scandal.
  • Body Horror: The U-Babe 2000. It's an automatic plastic surgery machine that's meant to turn a person into a perfect specimen of their species and gender... but when something goes wrong, it really goes wrong!
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Hermux takes three books to admit to Linka how he feels.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Mice are mostly herbivores, but not exclusive. They can be pretty versatile with food, and in the real (human) world they're known to eat insects and worms.
    • Non-mammals are also exploited for various other resources than food. Rare parakeets, for instance, are slaughtered for their feathers, the way mammals are killed for their fur in the real world.
    • In the third book, one gerbil has a pet cricket on a leash, evoking human celebrities with small pet dogs.
  • Cats Are Mean: Their extinct civilisation—clearly an Ancient Egypt analogue—enslaved mice.
  • Character Development: Hermux learns to be more assertive and more aware of the beauty around him. Linka learns to never get caught in a trap without backup. Androse DeRosenquill learns to appreciate his family. Tucka, conversely, seems to get worse with every book; she goes from merely a nuisance who sometimes even helps Hermux (such as when she hires him to restore the mechanical mouse dancer) to an active accessory to murder. She's also become more cynical in regards to her love life: in The Sands of Time, she was eager to marry Hinkum, and seemed genuinely hurt and upset when she found out the truth; in the later books, she uses men for her own interests alone.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The crimped penny from the Noddems' grandfather clock, the crumbs in Hermux's pocket, Linka's ring, Terfle's drawing skills... it is a detective series after all.
  • Costume Porn: The author was once a fashion photographer. It shows.
  • Crazy-Prepared: When organizing her adventures, Linka makes lists of everything, including the lists.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Mousetraps. Mutant killer bees. Nailed into a crate of rocks and pushed into a river. Thankfully none of them actually happen. Except for Termind the parrot's death—he is strangled and stuffed with sawdust, making him a real ventriloquist's dummy. Which his owner Gilden Binter has no skill at operating.
  • Dance of Romance: Subverted by Tucka and Hinkum's tango number at the museum opening. Firstly, one is only using the other for nefarious purposes; secondly, the swarm of decorative living flies gets shaken off her dress and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Turfip Dandiffer, who seems like a very nice if absentminded professor at first, but later tells Linka to more or less Stay in the Kitchen.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: That is, to sell her beloved airplane and become the perfect hostess to advance his academic career. Linka is not happy about this, and neither is Hermux.
  • Distressed Damsel: Linka in the first book, but later on, she proves more than capable of looking after herself. She keeps a sharpened ring for escape situations and even kills a scorpion one-to-one. Slightly parodied with Beulith Varmint in book 3, who keeps getting set up as a potential victim (complete with Nip Setchley as her would-be Knight in Shining Armor), but always ends up unharmed.
  • Dulcinea Effect: After just one meeting, Hermux is ready to risk his life and reputation to rescue Linka.
  • Fantastic Racism: The various species of rodent have several stereotypic ideas about each other; even Hermux is influenced by this at first, calling chipmunks "a clownish lot" and not believing a mole could be a Mad Scientist. He grows out of it eventually.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Hermux, who inherited his watchmaking business from his father. Also Androse DeRosenquill, who is searching desperately for his lost son so he can take over the family perfume business.
  • Food Porn: Hermux loves his small everyday pleasures, including donuts, coffee and especially cheese.
  • Freudian Excuse: Tucka explains away her massive vanity and attention-seeking as a result of being looked down on by her wealthier cousin as a child. Mennus implies that he's suffered from discrimination for being a mole.
  • G-Rated Drug: Tucka uses bee venom to puff up her lips, Botox-style, and appears to become addicted to it over the course of the fourth book.
    "Oh, mama! That's hot!"
  • Genre Savvy: At one point Linka comments that Hinkum is "a little amateurish at this whole villain thing". He stole her plane's distributor... but having been burned before, she has a spare.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Tucka, whenever she flirts with one of her men. At one time, she disguises herself as Killium's "cousin Keenkie". Seriously.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Tucka, to a newspaper columnist as she's angling for an interview.
    Tucka: If there's one thing I can't stand, it's hypocrisy. Incidentally, you're looking lovely tonight, have you lost weight?
  • I Have No Son: Androse to his second son, for living in a hippie commune and refusing to take over the family business.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Terfle of all people, after a nightmare. Except in her case, it's just water.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Hermux, in regards to Linka. Birch too, since when he found out he'd been declared legally dead, he decides to stay away from Pinchester in the hope that Mirrin would find happiness with someone else.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Fashionable: In the fourth book, Tucka gives Killium Wollar a thorough makeover. He's uncomfortable at first, but soon comes to appreciate the luxury.
  • Interspecies Romance: Mirrin and Birch. The former is a mouse, the latter a chipmunk. It gets treated more or less like an interracial romance would have been in 1960's America, with Birch being the minority. At one point, when Birch suggests that Mirrin might be happier with someone of her own kind, we get a Heartwarming Moment when she tells him:
    Mirrin: I've never found anyone of my own kind. Except you.
    • King Ka-Narsh-Pah and the dancer also count, in spite of interference from his Evil Chancellor.
  • Intrepid Reporter: In the first book, Pup Schoonagliffen. Who also happens to be the alter ego of Dr Hiril Mennus, though it's never clear which is the "default" personality.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Hermux, Linka and Birch in the cave with the dynamite.
  • It's All About Me: Tucka. At one point she claims not to have noticed two mice inside a mousetrap, screaming at her for help, were in danger. She's probably right.
  • Jerkass: Brinx, who abandoned Nurella when she lost her beauty.
  • Love at First Sight: Hermux and Linka; Nip and Beulith; possibly Tucka and Hinkum, on her side at least.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Tucka's lovers all turn out to be bad guys. Justified given how shallow she is; all she looks for are charm, good looks and a willingness to go along with her less than savory schemes.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Subverted in the third book, as the child in question never does find out. Played straight in the fourth book with the DeRosenquills.
  • Mad Artist: The public's perception of Mirrin Stentrill after she exhibits a series of horrifying (to the public) cat paintings.
  • Meaningful Name: A vain dormouse socialite named Skimpy Dormay; a playboy named Flurty Palin; a timid secretary named Blanda Nergup; a loud and volatile theatre director named Fluster Varmint; a villain named Hiril Mennus (sounds like "menace") ... the list goes on.
  • Metrosexual: Rink Firsheen, a flamboyant architect who is Tucka's protege.
  • Mighty Whitey: Or rather Mighty Mouse. Turfip Dandiffer, who trades things like radios and army knives for the "primitive" Nerran tribe's deepest secrets. (They're chinchillas.)
  • Missing Mom/Disappeared Dad: Hermux's parents died a few years before the start of the series. Beulith's case is a bit more complicated.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Hermux.
    "It was one thing to be all alone and facing certain death or worse (...), and it was another thing to be expected to do it without coffee."
  • Narm Charm: Discussed in-universe. When Mirrin takes Hermux to see a tragic opera, they agree that the story is ridiculous but the music still makes them cry.
  • New Old Flame: Mirrin and Birch, who met in college, meet again forty years later and find they're as deeply in love as ever.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Terfle. In the beginning, she seems to be an ordinary pet, but by the fourth book, she can draw portraits, design stage sets, give Hermux fashion advice, act as diplomat to a swarm of angry bees, and even get her own point of view narration in some chapters.
  • Offing the Offspring: Thankfully averted, but the third book came scarily close—Corpius Crounce nearly killed Beulith, his own daughter, with a falling spotlight. In his defence, he didn't know.
  • Overprotective Dad: Fluster Varmint to Beulith, especially since he's a widower.
  • Paparazzi: Moozella Corkin, who purposely presents a plain front so as to showcase her colorful subjects, especially Tucka.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: Killium, a lazy genius who plays vicious pranks just to keep from getting bored.
  • Renaissance Mouse: Hermux. Besides being a watchmaker (and therefore, an engineer, to an extent), he is by turns an amateur archaeologist, a set designer for a stage show, and an Amateur Sleuth.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Birch never set out to fake his death. Only after he'd already been reported dead did he realize it might be a good idea to leave it that way.
  • Retro Universe: Ironically for a series centred around a watchmaker, and setting aside the fact that the series takes place in a Mouse World—or rather, an alternate universe devoid of humans but where mice and other mammals live very human lifestyles—the time setting of the series is never specified. Although they use human terms for measurements of time, no years are ever specified, with all historical dates reckoned from the present (e.g. "n years ago").
    • Regarding technological development, the closest human analogue is tricky to place, but technology appears to have reached the equivalent of 1930s1960s human levels. Communications technologies have not advanced beyond telephones, telegraphs, and film; airplanes (such as Linka's) are vaguely implied to be analogous to pre-1950s human planes, and television sets are never mentioned, let alone computers. The one exception may be the U-Babe cosmetic surgery machine in the first book, which is operated from some sort of computer panel, but it is treated as being ahead of its time.
    • Meanwhile, what little is mentioned of social attitudes roughly parallel mid-20th-century social views in the human world—the most obvious being the isolated cases of Fantastic Racism (i.e., speciesist prejudices held by mice against moles, chipmunks, etc.), similar to American racism in the 1950s–1960s.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Terfle. How can you not want to cuddle her after reading these books?
  • Save the Villain: Hermux is very chivalrous towards Tucka, sometimes with comic results: for instance, trying to save her from a mugger who was really a paid actor during an avant-garde dinner theatre show. These embarrassing events inevitably make her despise him even more. Even when he actually saves her life, she is shockingly ungrateful.
  • Self Made Woman: Tucka is very proud of being one, as opposed to the heiresses from old families who look down their noses at her. It's one of the few points in her favor, actually.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Birch, a rare male example. Inversely, Linka actually looks better without elaborate clothes or makeup.
  • Sharp Dressed Man: Tucka's favorite type of boy toy. Killium becomes one after his makeover, Hinkum and Corpius come by it naturally.
  • Shipper on Deck: Mirrin, for Hermux and Linka. Hermux, for Mirrin/Birch and Nip/Beulith.
  • The Reveal: Several people during the series are not who they say they are, sometimes with shocking results:
    • In Book 1, Intrepid Reporter mole Pup Schoonagliffen is none other than Dr Hiril Mennus in disguise... or maybe it's the other way around, no one can say.
    • In Book 3, Glissin, the costume designer and best friend to Beulith's deceased mother Beulene, is none other than the reclusive celebrity, Nurella Pinch... and Beulith's biological mother, on top of that.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Invoked, lampshaded and parodied. Tucka and Rink sneer at anyone who doesn't share this point of view, especially Hermux, who cannot understand why Tucka's remodeling of his cozy lobby into a fake urban crime scene, or the "mugging" at the Varmint Theatre, or Rink's minimalistic stage designs, are supposed to be true art. On the other hand, Mirrin's cat paintings—for which she provides a perfectly reasonable explanation—are treated as horrifying and incomprehensible by the entire town. (Think a mouse version of the Mad Artists Ardois-Bonnot or Henry Wilcox from "The Call of Cthulhu", with cats as the resident Eldritch Abominations.)
  • True Beauty Is on the Inside: A lot of the first book is taken up with the question of beauty: What defines it? What is it worth? Hermux sincerely believes in this trope; according to Mirrin's advice, he writes thank-you notes to the universe in his journal eery night for the things he finds beautiful, and they are either ordinary things (food, landscapes) or abstract things like friendship, love, etc. Tucka, of course, believes the very opposite: she puts her beauty "on the outside, where it belongs" and is insufferable as a result.

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