cover image The Spiral Labyrinth: A Tale of Henghis Hapthorn

The Spiral Labyrinth: A Tale of Henghis Hapthorn

Matthew Hughes, . . Night Shade, $24.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-1-59780-091-4

The superior melding of fantasy, humor and detection seen in Majestrum (2006) is displayed to even better advantage in Hughes's second chronicle of Henghis Hapthorn, a “discriminator” (or consulting detective) on an alternate Earth. Aided by his “intuitive inner self,” Osk Rievor, and his faithful grinnet, an AI housed in an ape-cat body, Hapthorn accepts a request from wealthy socialite Effrayne Choweri to find her legendarily devoted and romantic husband, Chup, who vanished after looking into the purchase of a small spaceship. When the sleuth finds that several others who had considered buying the vessel also disappeared, he poses as a prospective buyer, only to be captured by a super-intelligent fungus seeking to expand its experience of reality by leeching the thoughts and knowledge of others. Hapthorn's wry first-person narration recalls Bertie Wooster, and Hughes effortlessly renders fantastic worlds and beings believable. News that a third adventure is in the works will surely please fans of many genres. (Sept.)