cover image Sergeant Chip and Other Novellas

Sergeant Chip and Other Novellas

Bradley Denton. Subterranean (, $40 (232p) ISBN 978-1-59606-638-0

If this collection of three outstanding novellas by Campbell Award and World Fantasy Award winner Denton has a weakness, it’s the renown of the tales. The title story, a Sturgeon Award winner told from the point of view of a sentient police dog whose loyalty to his master forces him into a difficult conflict, is witty, often brutal, and toes the line of sentimentality without ever crossing it; it’s also been reprinted in numerous “year’s best” volumes. Recent Edgar nominee “The Adakian Eagle,” a superb story featuring an aging Dash Hammett in WWII, deftly captures Hammett as a character without aping his authorial voice, and is the best of the stories; it can also be found in many other anthologies. Only “Blackburn and the Blade,” from a Joe R. Lansdale tribute volume, is relatively obscure. Although it’s neither as touching as “Sergeant Chip” nor as genre-bending as “The Adakian Eagle,” it’s a solid blend of gritty smalltown crime with Lansdale’s splatterpunk-inspired Lord of the Razor horror concept. For readers entirely new to Denton’s work, this volume is well worth acquiring, a demonstration of the author’s versatility and talent. (June)