Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe and the Dark-Elf
This surprising, dexterous mashup of high fantasy and hardboiled thriller from Schlichter (SKA: Serial Killers Anonymous
) begins with G-man and mage Agent Edgeangel summoning the eponymous narrator, a dwarf PI, to a bootlegger’s warehouse where his partner, Craig Mason, has just been found murdered. Before Sirgrus and Craig started their detective agency, they were buddies in the Great War, fighting orcs and vampires side by side, so Sirgrus feels obliged to avenge the dead human. To do so he must navigate a city uneasily divided between humans and other species—fairies, for example, have just won the right to vote. As his investigation leads him to the Dark-Elf, a popular speakeasy where all kinds of perversions are offered by dragonborn mobster Medrash, Sirgrus must balance the demands of rival gang bosses, Agent Edgeanagel’s nagging, and the realization that Mason was really a rotten jerk. He also struggles with recurring dreams from his time in the War—experiences that may be more connected to the present day mystery than they seem. Tolkien would be aghast at what Schlichter does with mythic lore, but the detailed worldbuilding and genuine feeling make everything work against the odds. Readers are in for some fun. (May)
Correction: An earlier version of this review misspelled the author's last name.