Book Log #33: Mean Streets, by Jim Butcher, Kat Richardson, Simon Green, and Thomas Sniegoski

If you’re an urban fantasy fan, you’ll want to put serious consideration into checking out the anthology Mean Streets, which brings four stories to the table, two of which are heavy hitters long familiar to my recent book buying habits.

Harry Dresden fans will first and foremost want to check out Jim Butcher’s contribution, “Warrior”–as long as you’re up to date on the series. This story is set between the novels Small Favor and Turn Coat, and there are definite spoilers for the former. Still, it’s a solid, compact Dresden adventure, distilled down to the essence of awesome that is Jim Butcher. All the involved characters are note-perfect, and in fact, the only complaint I have about the story is the lack of Murphy.

Kat Richardson’s story “The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog” is also excellent. No real spoilers for the Greywalker series, since Richardon’s heroine Harper Blaine is taken out of her usual locale and goes all the way down to Mexico to carry out the last wishes of a client. There’s a lot of nifty, spooky Day of the Dead mileage in this, so if that particular holiday is your thing, you’ll go for this.

Simon Green’s “The Difference a Day Makes” was harder for me to get into. I’m not familiar with the Nightside novels, so I didn’t have the advantage of familiarity to ground me with the protagonist, and that lack of context kept bumping up against said protagonist’s penchant for telling the reader in great detail about how Weird and Badassed the Nightside is. He’s even called on it by another character, and yet, he keeps doing it. Sorry, Mr. Green; I have to agree with your other character. ;) Plus, the OHNOEZ Big Reveal at the end of the story fell kind of flat for me. I’ll admit though that Mr. Green does have a vivid way with a description, so other readers may find this story works better for them.

Thomas Sniegoski’s “Noah’s Orphans” intrigued me, though. Again, I’m not familiar with the novels this story comes out of, but the concept of an angel who’s been masquerading as a private detective caught my interest, and Sniegoski does good things with utilizing Biblical mythos in setting up this story. Remy Chandler, a.k.a. the angel Remiel, is a poignant character as well in his struggle to cling to humanity he’s learned from a loved one he’s lost. I may have to go check out the Remiel books just to learn more about him–which, I daresay, makes this story a win.

All in all this is a solid volume and worth checking out. Four stars.

Book Log #32: Unquiet Dreams, by Mark Del Franco

Unquiet Dreams, Book 2 of Mark Del Franco’s Connor Grey series, is a decent enough followup to the first one. In this episode, Connor’s called upon to investigate the death of a human boy who has connections to local non-human gangs–a case which he fears is related to the gruesome murder of a high-profile elven community leader. Working through both these cases gives Connor a good hard look at the upper echelons of the Guild that turned him out after the accident that crippled his powers, brings him across the path of his brother, and may, just may, be handing him a further clue about what exactly has happened to his magic.

In terms of overall quality this series isn’t standing head and shoulders above its urban fantasy compatriots, but that’s fine; Connor’s character development arc as a previously arrogant man humbled by his magic’s loss is the interesting thing here for me. And I’ll also admit to liking the angle of dwarf and elf gangs in this novel, as well as the added data about the backstory of how denizens of Faerie came to live in “our” world. I could do with a little bit less of Connor trying too hard to convince himself he’s not an asshole anymore HONEST, but one hopes that as the series progresses and he becomes more comfortable with his maturity, he’ll stop that.

Still interested and will check out the third book when I can. For this one, three stars.