A serial scalper threatens to ignite a full-scale war between two bands of werewolves in Dan Chambeaux’s Unnatural Quarter. And there’s much, much more.
Now that Death Warmed Over, the first volume based on his adventures, has been published by the ghostwriter Linda Bullwer, aka Penny Dreadful, Dan ought to be one happy fella, since even posthumous fame is welcome to a zombie detective. But his brow is furrowed—or it would be, if undead brows furrowed—by problems in the Quarter. It’s clear that whoever shaved the pate of Rusty, the werewolf who runs cockatrice fights, has practiced on other werewolves, whether they’re Hairballs like Rusty, who remain always lycanthropes, or the Monthlies they’re feuding with, like troublemakers Scratch and Sniff, who turn wolf only under the full moon. When randy young vampire Ben Willard is murdered and his organs harvested, panic runs through the Quarter. A lesser shamus would forget his commitments to Archibald Victor, who wants Tony Cralo’s Spare Parts Emporium to replace the defective spleen and brain they sold him; to Steve Halsted, Dan’s dirt brother, whose ex-wife Rova, the world’s worst beautician, won’t let him visit his son because he’s a zombie and demands more child support even though he’s undead; and to Esther, the harpy waitress at Ghoul’s Diner who can’t get rid of a bad-luck charm a disgruntled wizard left her as a tip. Not Dan, who not only perseveres with each case, but manages to knit several of them together as neatly as witches Mavis and Alma Wannovich patch Dan’s diverse bullet holes after every round of his investigations.
Dan (Unnatural Acts, 2012, etc.), who’ll clearly do anything for a laugh, seems to be having the time of his afterlife. The result is like an early, funny Woody Allen film with zombies, ghosts, vampires and werewolves.