cover image Relentless Melt

Relentless Melt

Jeremy P. Bushnell. Melville House, $17.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-68589-032-2

Bushnell (The Insides) skillfully blends genres in this charming supernatural mystery set in 1909 Boston. Artie Quick, a saleswoman at Filene’s department store, has her heart set on becoming a detective. To that end, she disguises herself as a man and attends an all-male night class on criminal investigation offered by the Boston YMCA. The instructor sees through Quick’s disguise immediately, but agrees to let her stay in the course, and soon she pairs up with her friend Theodore Reed, a student of the occult, to solve a slate of mysteries. First up is a series of unidentified screams near the Boston Common, followed by a woman who narrowly escaped strangulation. Quick and Reed suspect the cases may be related, but have little to go on. They hit a major setback when the YMCA cancels the crime course without explanation, leaving Quick and Reed to wonder if their investigations are being deliberately sabotaged. Quick is a hugely endearing lead, and the solution to the mystery is likely to surprise even seasoned genre fans. This is an off-kilter delight. (June)