A world of imaginary beings faces a possible homicide in Betts’ (The Shadow Beneath the Waves, 2018, etc.) fantasy mystery.
Abe is a working stiff whose job is to be an Imaginary Friend to a child for as long as he or she needs him. But it’s clear by Abe’s fourth assignment that he’s lost interest in the work; he’s no longer concerned with appeasing his current “selfish little brat,” as he puts it. He returns to the Hill, a place for the Imaginaries, which also include Gods, Boogeymen, and Aliens. It’s separate from the Otherworld, where humans reside. The Council, comprised of Father Time, Mother Nature, and Death, decides that Abe is due for another gig, so they make him the Hill’s first investigator. Abe is surely qualified, as he was once an Imaginary Friend to a kid named Truman, who’s now an adult policeman. It seems that an Imaginary named Ira has died, which hasn’t ever happened before on the Hill. Abe looks into Ira’s unexplained demise with help from his pals Brady (a Bigfoot) and Zane (a Boogeyman). The investigation eventually leads Abe to shocking revelations, including a few choice items about himself. Betts immediately roots his fantastical characters in the day-to-day routine of the Hill; for example, it’s explained that the Council first began rotating jobs primarily so the Gods would have something to do. Readers hoping for a substantial murder mystery, though, may be disappointed, as the story quickly shifts to Abe’s investigation of the Hill’s past and present. However, this is an engrossing storyline on its own. The moments of humor are well-earned, and Brady and Zane are standouts: Their interview method is simply to ask people if they killed the victim. The ending manages to be both fascinating and endearing.
An offbeat, entertaining look at timeworn mythical characters.