cover image Hex-Rated


Jason Ridler. Night Shade, , $14.99 ISBN 978-1-59780-903-0

Steeped in the style of 1970s pulp detective fiction, this first book in a projected urban fantasy series capitalizes on some of the genre’s cheesier—and sleazier—aspects. Its gumshoe, former magician James Brimstone, has just hung out his shingle as a private dick. His first client, an actress with a scarred face, claims she was mauled by a snake that struck from the mouth of her costar on the set of a pornographic film. Brimstone smells sorcery, and before he can solve the mystery of why mages would be seeking purchase in the smut industry, he has to navigate encounters with the Hell’s Angels, Nazi cultists, and other personnel from the dark underbelly of Los Angeles. Brimstone is cut from the cloth of the classic wisecracking detective, and Ridler (Rise of the Luchador) peppers the text with perfectly pitched hard-boiled vernacular (“She’d fallen out of the pretty tree and hit every branch on the way down”). The novel’s wild mix of comedy and supernatural perils bodes well for its detective’s future adventures. (Aug.)