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Down These Strange Streets
Other books in this series include Kitty's Greatest Hits.
Genres: Urban Fantasy
“Death by Dahlia” (Sookieverse)
“Hungry Heart” (Nightside, 1.5)
“Styx and Stones” (Roma Sub Rosa, 0.5a)
“Pain and Suffering” (Shadowspawn, 2.5)
“It’s Still the Same Old Story” (Kitty Norville, 6.5)
“Shadow Thieves” (Garret, P.I., xx.5)
“No Mystery, No Miracle” (Edge, 2.5??)
“Lord John and the Plague of Zombies (Lord John Grey, 3.5)
“Beware the Snake” (SPQR, XII.V)
“In Red, with Pearls” (Mercy Thompson, 6.5)
There are 16 short stories with a common theme of mystery and private detectives, whether the individual story is of fantasy or reality, well, that’s up to the individual author.
I suspect Martin and Dozois are including Martin’s introduction, “The Bastard Stepchild” as part of the story count. I do suggest reading it as it sheds light on the theme of the stories to come.
Charlaine Harris’ “Death by Dahlia” loosely follows the hierarchical concept for vampires introduced in the Sookie Stackhouse series with a brief cameo from Diantha, but that’s as close as it comes to a Sookie Stackhouse short.
You’ll enjoy the story more if you aren’t wondering where Eric, Pam, or Sookie are… An unexpected death while celebrating the new sheriff in town forces Dahlia to quickly investigate.
Joe R. Lansdale’s “The Bleeding Shadow” is an amazing story combining horror with mystery when Alma May gets worried about her jazz-playing brother and asks an old friend to investigate. It’s set in a 1930-ish Texas. Excellent and CREEPY!!
Simon R. Green’s “Hungry Heart” finds John Taylor hired to find a witch’s heart that she claims has been stolen. Hey, it’s the Nightside, everybody lies. Another pip from Green.
Steven Saylor’s “Styx and Stones” just goes to show that tourism and vandalism are universal when Antipater and Gordianus visit Babylon to see what’s left of the famous Hanging Gardens only to encounter a lemur, a ghost, who kills…bwah-ha-ha… I must pick the first in this series, Roman Blood, unless I can find the prequel, Seven Wonders.
S.M. Stirling’s “Pain and Suffering” finds Eric Salvador, a Santa Fe police detective, investigating an arson case with his partner, Cesar Martinez. An interesting blend of detection and horror with characters I found intriguing.
I thought Stirling had created an excellent first step in what could be a terrifying war, and I want to read more of the Shadowspan series. Then I discovered this is actually 2.5 in the chronology. I definitely have to get serious about reading Stirling!
NOTE: Now that I’ve read Shadowspawn 1 & 2, I’ve discovered that this simply takes bits and pieces from 1 & 2, focusing on the detectives investigating the fire trap Adrienne set in Ellen’s apartment.
Carrie Vaughn’s “It’s Still the Same Old Story” is a tale about Rick and a woman he met sixty-some years ago. A woman he could have loved and chose to protect. It’s a snapshot into Rick’s long life with insight into how he thinks, how he loves. And I just wanna cry…
Conn Iggulden’s “The Lady is a Screamer” is actually pretty funny about this con artist who suddenly discovers he’s not. I enjoyed reading about the “partners” he picked up along the way and how very useful they were…
Laurie R. King’s “Hellbender” is a story of bigotry and one in which the government actually lives up to its promise, much to the missings’ dismay. A small group of people are targeted and only one person is still free to point out the connection. A good one, if a bit vague on some points.
Glen Cook’s “Shadow Thieves” is my very least favorite, mostly due to being so incomprehensible. Cook dropped us in and didn’t worry whether we swam or sank. Nothing about how the world, all we learn about the characters is as a play in progress — and his characters make no sense either. If this is typical of his writing, I ain’t reading any more.
Melinda M. Snodgrass’ “No Mystery, No Miracle” is fascinating. It’s another of those drop-us-in sort of stories, but Snodgrass provides a background — I suspect it’s the start of the Dust Bowl years — and motives we can immediately understand, even if the characters are not human. She certainly does a unique twist on religious figures! I couldn’t help but laugh at? with? Cross as he fervently stated that he did believe. I want to read more about these characters if only to confirm my guess!
M.L.N. Hanover’s “The Difference Between a Puzzle and a Mystery” is in one word — eeek! It starts out seeming enlightened with the police chief okaying an exorcist. A nice, somewhat innocuous guy. But it descends quickly at the end, leaving me with questions. Not very nice questions. Hanover seems like such a mild writer…don’t you believe it!
Lisa Tuttle’s “The Curious Affair of the Deodand” was quite clever and a more modern version of a Sherlock Holmes-type detective with his female Watson. I must look Tuttle up and pick up some of her books.
Diana Gabaldon’s “Lord John and the Plague of Zombies” touches down in Jamaica about the time that Jamie and Claire are there, and I kept turning the pages, expecting to encounter them. Mrs. Abernathy is still alive at Rose Hall and has just killed her husband, so maybe I’m still a bit early?? Then again, maybe she’s not the woman I’m thinking of as Claire described this iteration of Gellis as incredibly fat which Gabaldon does not say in this short story.
Anyway, it was good with a breath of fresh air in terms of Lord John being a decent sort and not the typical English jerk of the times. He’s Lieutenant Colonel Grey now, and I enjoyed “getting to know” Major Fettes and Captain Cherry while Lord John is very careful in determining the truth and playing fair.
John Maddox Roberts’ “Beware the Snake” and I ain’t sure which “snake” he’s referring to in this title — the one that slithers on the ground or the one who walks upright. I very much liked Decius Caecilius and his sense of humor. It was fun to read an ancient Roman mystery with DC’s contemporary-sounding snark! Cynicism and stupidity are certainly timeless and universal. Julius Caeser needs DC to investigate the theft of a revered snake, and you will crack up at DC’s questions and musings about the whole affair. I loved how well he pulled us into the scene. I’ve already put my order in for The King’s Gambit.
Patricia Briggs’ “In Red, with Pearls” is a side story off the Mercy Thompson series and focuses on Warren and Kyle Brooks. Warren has recently come to work at Kyle’s law firm as a private detective. And a good thing too when someone sends an assassin with nothing more to lose.
Bradley Denton’s “The Adakian Eagle” was excellent, although he drove me a bit nuts with wondering who Pop was until he put me out of my misery. An intriguing little story in which we pop into the middle of events and done very well with a distinct beginning, middle, and end — although not in the order one would expect!
The Cover and the Title
The cover is definitely urban with the alley and garage door tucked into the corner of high-rise buildings, vents, and puddles. The fantasy is evoked with the pillar of smoke rising up behind the miniskirted woman in her high-heeled pumps and leather jacket standing in partnership with the on-alert male in jeans, boots, and his own motorcycle jacket, gun dangling at his side.
The title is a reference to Martin’s statement referring to urban fantasy as “the offspring of two older genres”: horror and mystery, the noir type of mystery and Chandler’s statement regarding “down these mean streets”, and that is where we go, exploring Down These Strange Streets.