Mean Streets

Book Twelve of the Books 2010 project is a collection of four urban fantasy novellas. The main draw for us was the Jim Butcher’s story, “The Warrior,” set in the Harry Dresden universe. It was a great addition to the continuity of the Dresden series, but I don’t think it would work well as a standalone story – without the knowledge of the greater continuity, there’s just too much background knowledge to fit into sixty some pages. If this were the first Dresden Files story I’d ever read, I’d be completely lost.

For the other three novellas, this was less of a problem. Each one is set within an author’s established universe, and used their main characters, but if there were calls on any major pieces of continuity, they were subtle enough that I didn’t even notice them.

Simon R. Green’s story, “The Difference a Day Makes” is set in a gritty shadow of London, existing parallel to the real world. The Nightside is a creepy surreal nightmare of a town, and the main character, John Taylor, is a private investigator with the uncanny ability to find anything. Personally, after a while I was annoyed by the continual repetition of how the city was grim, gritty, grey, greasy and so on.

Kat Ritchardson’s story, “The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog” wins my vote for the most interesting title, and the story itself doesn’t disappoint. Harper Blaine will be given $30,000 by the estate of a woman she never met on the condition that she place a particular clay dog statue on a certain grave in Mexico. The catch is that she has the ability to see and speak with ghosts, and she’s got to do this before the Day of the Dead.

The final story, Thomas E. Sniegoski’s, “Noah’s Orphans” deals with Remy Chandler. He’s, quite literally, an angel working as a private investigator. His client is a (slightly fallen) angel who wants him to find out who has murdered Noah. The premise was interesting, but I generally find it kind of unsatisfying to read about beings of infinite power – it’s the whole Batman vs, Superman dichotomy. Batman is more interesting because of his limitations.

So! Of the four, I heartily recommend Kat Ritchardson for anyone, Jim Butcher for Dresden fans, and the other two are decent reads even with their flaws.

Page Count: 311

Total page count: 3580

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