A private detective, who’s part human and part dog, attempts to track down a vampire scroll and exorcise a Confederate ghost in this urban fantasy novel.
In 2015, the stars went out for 24 hours. When they reignited, the world was transformed in many ways; for one, the walls between human reality and the faerie realm were weakened, and the latter’s inhabitants soon poured across the open borders. The “Anomaly” also created hybrids—humans who “fused” with animals or inanimate objects. In America, most large cities have forced faerie folk and hybrids to live in ghettos, while unaffected humans—called “pedigrees”—may move freely. In Chicago, Wolfgang Rex is a second-generation hybrid of a human and a Rhodesian Ridgeback canine. Rex became a police lieutenant but retired in 2063 to become a private detective, assisted by the invaluable faerie Sally Sandweb. Vampire clients always spell trouble, but when two offer Rex good money to find a missing scroll, he agrees to take the case. Another client who should raise alarm bells is Charlotte Sweeney-Jarhadill, a voluptuous pedigree from Beggar Creek, Louisiana, who wants help at home exorcising the headless phantom of a Confederate soldier, and she’s offering far more than the job is worth. It all adds up to danger—more than Rex could have ever imagined. O’Brien (Down & Out in Fairyland, 2018, etc.) offers a wildly imaginative mix of hard-boiled detective story and urban fantasy, featuring various monsters that add several layers and flavors of noir style. Rex’s narrative voice is cool and tough throughout, and his personality is well-judged; much like a dog, he’s both a promiscuous lover and a loyal friend. After a great start, however, the novel loses momentum as Rex travels around to pursue his investigations, and he’s frustratingly slow to pick up on the significance of an important clue. Also, the ending opens up a much wider story that, while intriguing, wanders far from its detective-fiction origins.
A compelling, original tale with a strong narrative voice despite some missteps.