Monday , July 22 2024
A fun trip into urban fantasy with a private detective who just happens to pack a wand.

Book Review: ‘Hot Lead, Cold Iron’ by Ari Marmell

Mick Oberon is a PI in 1932 Chicago, much along the lines of Mike Hammer or Sam Spade. Well, except that he uses a wand instead of a gun whenever he has a choice; he can do magic and only illusion keeps people from seeing his pointy ears.

Mick, in fact, is Fae, what some refer to as a fairy, although not the sort that flit through children’s story books. He was once a powerful member of the Seelie court, but he is not exactly welcome there now. He walked away, and now he lives in our world, although not very comfortably. He has trouble with iron, you see, and with electricity and most modern technology

Nevertheless, he’s here, and he’s working and, when a mob boss’ s wife asks him to find her daughter, who was kidnapped and replaced with a changeling 16 years earlier (a fact that becomes apparent when the changeling daughter begins to act even more inhuman than even your usual 16-year-old girl), Mick is the man to find her. But that means he has to deal with a lot of unpleasant characters, both in this world and in the Otherworld.

Marmell does an excellent job of mixing urban fantasy and Noir.  He really catches the hard-boiled style of Mickey Spillane and the other great writers of detective fiction, and he manages to mix in huge helpings of magic without losing any of the grittiness. In fact, Oberon’s ability to heal quickly allows for even more violence than your average detective tale.

Oberon is cranky, hundreds of years old (although he doesn’t look it,) somewhat arrogant, and tough as they come. But he also has a soft spot, which means he really cares not only about the kidnapped girl, but also the changeling who took her place, and he strives to be just even when he is in the middle of mob warfare and dark magic.

This book is a fun ride and any reader of urban fantasy will love it. It’s also a great entry into the genre for readers of pulp fiction, mysteries and detective stories. The action is non-stop, and the glimpses of Otherworld Chicago are compelling. This is the first in a series of Mick Oberon stories, and this reporter is eager for the next one.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, Southern Crossroads: Georgia Bluesand Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.

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