A Witch Steps Into My Office by Dougls Lumsden
A Witch Steps Into My Office
She killed him with a curse--but he hasn't died yet!
Alex Southerland is back, along with Smokey, Badass, and Crawford the were-rat! In his most harrowing case yet, the hardboiled. P.I. must stop the most powerful witch in Yerba City from casting deadly curses against her will. Southerland plunges into the dark world of witchcraft and find himself pitted against forces beyond his imagination, including a hummingbird-headed god who wants to eat his heart and a giant shadowy dog who drags him to the borders of the land of the dead! The stakes couldn't be higher: failure to find the mysterious puppet-master controlling his client could result in the end of all life on earth!
I am actually a bit late on this review, as I read it last year but have only just managed to get my thoughts down on this one.
I have come into contact Douglas Lumsden on Twitter and he is always a delight to converse with, which brought me into contact with his books.
Now, I will have to put my hands up here and come clean. Unfortunately, I started this series by reading the second book. It was an honest mistake guv’nor, and by the time that I had realised that this was the second book, I didn’t want to relinquish my investment in the story as it had gripped me completely.
The other thing about this is that I consumed this via the audio book (and let me tell you ‘consumed’ is the absolute correct word because I did the listening equivalent of not being able to put this down, and finding myself sneaking any opportunity to slip my headphones on and carry on with this wonderful story).
The book revolves around Alex Sutherland P.I. who runs his investigative business in Yerba City, and kicks off in typical gumshoe detective fashion when a femme fatale walks into his office. However, from there we can leave the familiarity of the gum shoe detective behind when we are told that the ‘femme fatale’ is a witch of the highest standing, and indeed she is the most fatal of femme fatale’s who has the capability to destroy the world. Not only that, she is confessing to a murder that hasn’t been committed yet, and that she is under the compulsion of an unknown someone who is using her as a weapon to place curses on individuals in Yerba city.
Alex is then tasked with trying to solve the mystery of who is controlling the head honcho of the most powerful witch cults, Citlali Cuapa, also dubbed the ‘Barbary Coast Brujera’
Following this, Alex immediately tries to save the life of the cursed man in a race against time.
Do you think he is successful? Well suffice it to say that this is one of the hooks that is immediately at play in this action packed fantasy/thriller, and I am not going to tell you anymore. What I do need to tell you though, is that this is the first forty or so pages, and the book carries on in much the same vein, as Alex attempts to discover the power behind the Barbary Coast Brujera’s compulsions and who is causing eh mysterious deaths in Yerba City.
As with any new series that you start, you don’t know exactly what you are going to get, but I tell you, this is a gloriously fun, witty, and sharp piece of urban fantasy. And the marriage of urban fantasy and forties style detective novel is something that works tremendously well.
There is so much to enjoy in this book! Douglas Lumsden creates a fantastical and intricate modern world, but mixes with it with the authenticity of Forties noir to bring something to the page that is exhilarating and fun. He manages to take the tropes of both forms of fiction and magically transforms them into something new.
Now, I cannot say that I am not particularly au fâit with the written form of noir fiction, and whilst I have read a few, I have not been particularly steeped in this form of literary fiction. However, I have seen enough films and other things to make this familiar. Similarly, with urban fantasy! Again I am not all that well versed in urban fantasy, but again, know enough to get by. However, this does not matter, as Douglas Lumsden’s story is like an old comfy seat, and it is not long before you are feeling like these settings are wrapping you in your favourite blanket.
Not only that, Douglas Lumsden’s world building is something to behold. At times, he will bring in the familiar beasts and races of fantasy fiction, but will transpose them on to a modern background, which works extremely well, for instance, there are gnomes, trolls, witches and a variety of other creatures. My personal standout was Mr Whiskers, the Manticore, who has a psychic connection with his ‘handler’, Cody.
In addition to this, Douglas Lumsden sets the story in a Mesoamerican setting, which is full of mythology based on the pre – Columbian culture of Mexico and Central America and incorporates it really well into the story. As it is identified in the nicely supplied glossary at the end of the book, the stories of Alex Sutherland are based in Tolanica, which derives its name from Tollan, or Tolan and is incuded in Mayan folklore.
I loved every character in this book, even the bad guys. Again, he cleverly uses stereotypical representations of characters out of these types of fiction, and then rips the stereotypicality away to make something inexorably pleasing.
Now whilst the book might seem all lightness and fun, it does at times, with some of its subplots go to some pretty dark places, such as human trafficking, and whilst there are never any details as such, there are these undertones. However, whilst they are present, they are carefully interwoven into the main body of the story and plot.
Now, I think I have chewed your ear off enough about this, I can only say that if you are looking for a brilliantly written fusion of detective/urban fantasy let me point you in the direction of this series.