Posted on January 29, 2009 by Matt-M-McElroy
The best paranormal private investigators have been brought together in a single volume—and cases don’t come any harder than this.
This book offers something a little different from the several Urban Fantasy anthologies that have hit the shelves over the last couple of years (Blood Lite and Many Bloody Returns for example). Instead of a collection of short stories by a bunch of different authors, this book has four novellas. The novella allows the authors a chance to develop the plot a bit more and occasionally drop a few more twists and turns into the mystery.
This is a short character focused story in the Dresden Files setting by Jim Butcher. This adventure takes place after the events of Small Favor and primarily focuses on the life of former Knight of the Cross Michael Carpenter and his family. Harry is a bit concerned for Michael’s safety now that he no longer has the “protection” of the holy sword Amoracchius and is primarily a “civilian” at this point. Harry has guessed that not all of their enemies might care that Michael has retired and may try to get a little payback.
It turns out that someone is out-for-blood, but it may specifically be Michael they are after. I don’t want to spoil too much about the story, but readers will get the chance to learn more about Father Forthill, the Knights of the Cross and the Carpenter family. Harry also gets a little roughed up and has more than one interesting conversation. I’m curious to see how the final pep-talk prepares Harry for the trials ahead in Turn Coat and beyond.
The Difference a Day Makes
Set in the Nightside dimension, Simon R. Green tells us a new tale of John Taylor. This particular case seems easy enough at the beginning. A “normal” citizen from the world somehow ends up in the Nightside with a missing husband and missing memory. She convinces John and his pal Deadboy to help her find her husband, thinking that will also restore her missing memory. Naturally, things just don’t work out that smoothly in the Nightside.
This story is full of all kinds of interesting characters and strange places that make up the Nightside. To an unfamiliar reader it may be a bit much to take in all at once. There are a lot of throwaway lines and it takes a bit to catch up as they zip through the streets in Deadboy’s futuristic car. The characters end up in the “badlands” which is saying something for the dark and deadly Nightside. The entire case wraps up nicely and leaves very few loose ends, which works well for a novella. Fans of the series will enjoy it, new readers just might get a little lost.
The Third death of the little clay dog
This is a new Harper Blaine tale from Kat Richardson, which also served as an introduction to the series for me. I had glanced at her books previously, but have not had the chance to read any of them yet. Too many books, not enough time. It seems that I have been missing out on some good adventures.
Harper is hired to travel to Mexico with a small clay statue as part of a ritual. The client is dead (this was a request of her Will) and the case gets weirder from there. Once in Mexico she meets a pouting emo kid with a gift of magic and follows a few false leads before figuring out who is trying to pull a fast one on who (ghosts included). The mystery is well written and the characters are entertaining. As an introduction story it works really well.
Another first for me, this tale of the “fallen” angel Remy Chandler by Thomas E. Sniegoski is full of cool new twists on biblical mythology. Remy is dealing with a tragic personal loss when Sariel, a leader of the fallen Grigori intrudes on his mourning. It seems that another tragedy has happened in the world and one of the few near-immortal humans has been murdered. That mystery leads to more mysteries and events quickly spiral out of control, forcing Remy to make some tough decisions about his place in the world.
I think this is a good story, but I also think with a bit more detail it would have made an excellent novel. With a few more chapters to expand the twists and turns of the investigation (and the excellent conflict within the Grigori ranks) readers could have really been hooked into the adventure. Remy’s personal development did not get as much development as I would have liked, nor did the secondary characters get nearly enough “screen time” as I hoped. Regardless, this is a good story and a great finale for the book.
Review by Matt M McElroy