Mackie’s novel, the lively start of metaphysical mystery series, is a witty mix of the magical and the mundane.
Donnie Elder quits his job as the marketing director of a software company and searches for something meaningful and different to do with the next chapter of his life. A family friend offers him a chance to become a partner in a delivery company—Arcane Transports. But this is no mere courier service. Arcane Transports has a monopoly on the transport and delivery of occult and magical items within Canada. Their offices are in a strip mall and their fleet has seen better days, but Arcane’s client list is a who’s who of the wacky and weird, from mysteriously powerful consulting firms to strip clubs needing rushed shipments of love potions. One day, while picking up a delivery from a client, Donnie and his partner are robbed at gunpoint by a henchman for the Russian Mafia. After that, Donnie’s life quickly becomes more complicated, as he tries to recover the package, stay one step ahead of the mob, romance a beautiful cop and navigate an awkward roommate situation with his loutish brother, Ted. Mackie has a lot of fun with his premise, with many of Arcane’s parcels wreaking havoc on the lives of its employees, from a ring that causes incredible bad luck to a stone that manifests deepest fears. But there’s too much going on here: As the first volume in an anticipated series, this novel spends a lot of time infodumping, and there are too many characters, segues and sidesteps before Donnie finally solves the mystery of the stolen package. Luckily, the doses of humor and invention throughout keep the work from badly bogging down. Some of the Canadian touches will confuse American readers—references to Toronto’s Bay Street or to Tylenol 3s, for example—but otherwise this promises to be the start of a clever and entertaining series.
A fantasy romp set in the world of occult parcel posting—who knew it could be so perilous to ship enchanted objects?