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Mean Streets Cover Picture

Mean Streets

Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Kat Richardson, Thomas E. Sniegoski

Published 2009      342 pages

Reviewed by Georgia

Summary (from the book jacket)

They walk the streets no one else can walk, take the jobs no one else will take, and if you’ve got a problem – and the cash – they can solve it. Of course, if your case involves rabid werewolves, cursed objects, the living dead, malevolent beings from another dimension, or other “unusual” circumstances, it may cost you a bit extra...

Finally, the best paranormal private investigators have been brought together in a single volume boasting all-new novellas by the greatest authors in the genre. And cases don’t come any harder than these...

New York Times Bestselling Author Jim Butcher delivers a story in which Harry Dresden – Chicago’s only professional wizard – tries to protect a friend from danger and ends up becoming a target himself.

John Taylor, the best PI in the secret heart of London known as the Nightside, has a rep to uphold – he can find anything. But locating the lost memory of a desperate woman may prove to be his toughest case ever in a thrilling noir tale from New York Times Bestselling Author Simon R. Green.

National Bestselling Author Kat Richardson’s Greywalker finds herself in too deep when a “simple job” in Mexico goes awry on the Day of the Dead, and Harper Blaine is enmeshed in a tangle of dark family secrets and revenge from beyond the grave.

He was known as Noah, an ancient being who lived among us for centuries. Now he is dead, and Boston-based fallen angel-turned-detective Remy Chandler has been hired to find out who – or what – murdered him in a whodunit by National Bestselling Author Thomas E. Sniegoski.

The Review

This collection is compiled of four detective stories with characters taken from four popular series, namely The Dresden Files, the Nightside Series, the Greywalker Series and the Remy Chandler Series respectively.

For all those unfamiliar with one or more series in this collection there is no need to panic. The authors take extra care to ensure coherence and entertainment by putting all essential information within the plot of each story. Their writing is so good that it advertises their work far more effectively than any other form of P&R. So, if you enjoy paranormal detectives, take the plunge and you will not regret it.

In Jim Butcher's novella, Harry decides to investigate the threats being left at his doorstep, which concern his good friend Michael Carpenter, only to find himself mixed up in something more challenging than predicted. This is so typical “Harry” that fans will simply smirk and read on. For the uninitiated in the Dresden Files Harry is the action hero through and through. He will help at any cost especially those he cares about. He is neither a saint nor a perfect guy, but a very likeable character who will make the effort and take the hard choices. This story is no exception. With a steady rhythm Harry goes on until he unravels the mystery and protects his friend. He takes the challenge and never gives up. Like a true Dresden story suspense, action, wry humour and of course the “Dresden” philosophy is there for your entertainment. I enjoyed Harry’s and Uriel’s dialogue. They are always very interesting and this one is no exception.

Moving on the anthology continues with a story taken from Simon R. Green's the Nightside Series. Personally, I was unfamiliar with the series, but I admit that I was captivated and intrigued by its originality and its colourful world.

John Taylor, the main character, has a talent for finding things, even if those things concern a person’s memory. This time around he is called upon to find out what happened on a specific day, and as the title says “What difference does a day make!” His task is not an easy one, and more importantly it is his own fear of what may the outcome be that challenges him constantly. Nevertheless, like a good bloodhound once upon the trail he doesn’t give up. There is too much action and a unique character “Dead Boy”. In a universe where legends and technology are amalgamated, where both the mystique and the absurd form a reality of its own, our protagonists search for lost memories, continuously dreading the result. I welcomed the lavish but not exhausting details of the Nightside and its inhabitants, the staccato of action and of course the revelations in the end. Like a jigsaw puzzle, when every piece was put together, the reader came closer to understanding. The reader doesn’t loose interest, nor does he/she predict the repercussions of the story. One may detect which way the wind blows, but in the end you are flabbergasted by the sequence of events. The showdown is so vividly written, with such emotional intensity that you are left stunned and relieved at the same time.

Next up is a story by Kat Richardson from the Greywalker Series. Harper Blaine is asked a strange request: to take a dog figurine on the Day of the Dead in Mexico to a specific grave and stay with it until the day ends. More out of curiosity than anything else Harper takes up this peculiar job and ends up biting off more than she thought she could chew.

Exactly like all of the mysteries in this series this plot puzzles itself out at the very end; and what a story does it make! As Harper realizes that there is more to it than what meets the eye, the reader too is left wondering what will happen next. Our heroine works out the clues diligently and bit by bit she figures out the importance of the figurine and of the request made to her. So if you ask yourself what is it that sets this story apart from the rest of the book, the answer lies in a simple yet effective trick of the author: she introduces a different kind of character to plot, i.e. “The Day of the Dead”. This important holiday for the Mexican people is incorporated to the story as another character. It transcends the mere mysticism that the day presents per se; it becomes a key figure to the whole plot. Thus, the author kills two birds with one stone, she uses the paranormal background attached to the holiday of the Day of the Dead and she narrates its significance overcoming the folkloric and sometimes ridiculous approach to it. There is a lot of respect for both the people of Mexico and their traditions felt by the heroine, who progressively overcomes her prejudice and her scepticism and embarks on a journey that will teach her new things and bring new friends to her life. The author’s narrative is full of twists and turns, enhanced by a need to intrigue her readers and maybe to help them understand the importance of diversity and how sometimes the belief in one thing is not as absurd or as outrageous as one may think.

Finally, the last story by Thomas E. Sniegoski revolves around fallen angel turned private eye Remy Chandler. Remy is asked to investigate the murder of a (literally) biblical figure, Noah. Tormented by personal sorrows he is reluctant to accept the offer until his hand is forced. This story too has an element of unexpected development. The main character has a lot of internal struggles and somehow this adventure works to his benefit.

The author uses a strong and vivacious narrative. Intrigue is mixed up nicely with morality and the variation in personalities, motives and course of action for each character creates a beautiful story with emotional depth. Remy’s difficulties also contribute to the character’s development and to the choices he makes in the end. In this story the personal factor is as strong as the professional; here is a man albeit a fallen angel who must make decisions about his future. And as the investigation moves on the author debates how compassion can shape a person’s life and how much the lack thereof will dog him/her until the final days of their life. All these questions are posed in a subtle way, leaving both the character and the readers to decide for themselves.

In the end I can only say that all four stories had their point of interest and offered their moral debates in a fashion that certainly invites the readers to ponder the issues at hand and draw their own conclusions.

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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