Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hangdog Hero Pilots Great Supernatural Noir

Source: Publisher Website
Drake (Burned Man #1) by Peter McLean (Angry Robot, 2016, 320pp.)

It’s safe to say that Don Drake, a London-based diabolist-turned-hit-man for hire, has certainly made a lousy life for himself. He’s stuck in a miserable partnership with a raucous, foul-mouthed archdemon that he keeps locked in his study; he self-medicates with alcohol to forget the people he’s killed; he’s hung-up on an old girlfriend who won’t give him the time of day; and he’s under the thumb of Wormwood, a nasty demon and local club-owner whom he happens to owe quite a bit of money. Yes, life is hell. And it’s about to get a lot worse: before the story ends, Drake will find himself tied to a chair and interrogated with a power-drill; seduced by a kinky red-head with a thing for whips; get jumped outside a night club and beaten up by aforementioned red-head; and contend with a nearly-fallen angel who has an annoying penchant for Russian cigarettes. And that’s all before a climactic trip to the underworld. What’s a demon-plagued magician to do if he wants to survive in this business?

I have to say, I really enjoyed this novel. When the story first opened, I thought Drake was going to be just another stoic Sam Spade type. Not so! Imagine if Jesse Pinkman, the young, sensitive delinquent hero of Breaking Bad, was in the soul-destroying business of dark magic instead of making meth. Yes, you’re right. It wouldn’t end well. And unfortunately, this too is the case for Drake. Another thing I must mention is narration. With some first-person stories, a narrator describes events and you never really get a sense of his character. This author, however, does it right, allowing the hero’s hang-dog personality to really shine through as he narrates his ensuing misadventures with sarcasm and self-deprecation. Drake is a bang-up job indeed.

Now, while I could just haphazardly recommend this for any fan of urban fantasy, I won’t. The story deals with a variety of seedy characters, and the plot itself takes several dark turns. Therefore, I can really only recommend it for fans of dark fantasy, or for hard-boiled mystery lovers who don’t mind a lot of supernatural elements thrown into the mix.

No comments:

Post a Comment