In this first installment of a planned series, Perry (Was It a Rat I Saw?, 2013) blurs genre lines, combining a hard-boiled detective story with urban fantasy.
Veronica Static, known to most people as Nica, is a Los Angeles native embarking on a new enterprise as a private detective. Despite her lack of experience, credentials, or license, she manages to acquire three separate cases in one afternoon: a creepy, strung-out couple searching for a duffel bag; a pair of concerned godparents looking for their missing teenage niece; and a wild, ethereal couple, Anya and Anwyl, who simply want Nica to accompany them to a mysterious meeting. As she pursues each of her investigations, the three plot threads begin to overlap. When Nica goes with Anya and Anwyl, she’s dragged into the world of Frames, which are essentially alternate, coexisting universes. She’s soon tasked with helping solve a dispute that, according to Anwyl, threatens all the free Frames. The first of her Frame visits results in her introduction to the local Watts Towers landmarks, which turn out to be sentient. Along with a substitute janitor, Hernandez, she sets out to observe areas where refugees from other Frames wander into her own and determine what imminent threat they might pose. Like any good noir story, the narrative is told from a first-person perspective, and Nica is a chatty narrator with an irreverent, self-deprecating sense of humor. Having a female detective in this genre is a refreshing change from the usual, and the conversational tone of the writing makes it all easily digestible. The fantasy elements are well thought out, though they occasionally overshadow the story’s mystery elements. Perry also has a flair for detailed, unique similes: “When he saw me, he reacted with one of his giant smiles that…lit his eyes like a flashbulb light.”
A fun, fast-paced novel suitable for readers who
appreciate grit, sarcasm, mystery, and dimension-hopping.