Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Blood on his fists. Rage in his heart.

You guys are already familiar with Chuck Wendig, right? If not you need to fix that. His blog is great, his Twitter feed is great, and his books, at least the two I've read, are also pretty great. About a year ago I read Mockingbird and decided I had let too much time go by (and also the book was on sale) and I picked up his urban fantasy book The Blue Blazes.

The Blue Blazes takes place in NYC, although only a small part takes place in the NYC I know. Most of it takes place in this NYC under our feet, somewhere filled with demons and evil creatures invisible to those on the service that aren't blazing. Meaning those who have taken this drug, a blue powdering substance, and applied it to their temples which lets them experience this secret world. Those that control the Blue are in a position of power, and Mookie is the brawn for such an organization. Mookie is a brick wall of a man with a love for charcuterie and a contentious relationship with his daughter.

Things are changing in Mookie's world. The boss is sick and the question is who's going to take control? Mookie's daughter Nora seems to have some big plans. The boss's grandson also has some plans, and asks Mookie if he could find the rumored Death's Head pigment to help his grandfather get better. Mookie may not believe in the other pigments but he has a job to do so he goes to scour the Great Below. Of course nothing can be simple so Mookie deals with gobbos and ghosts/undead (but not zombies) and snake demons and roller derby gangs and all kinds of things both on his side and trying to destroy him.

This is urban fantasy but also noir. It's violent and action packed. It's also touching. Mookie isn't a genius but he's not all brawn and no brains. His relationship with his daughter is complicated, as is Nora's relationship with him. The Great Below and the denizens that reside there are creepy and treacherous.

If you already know Wendig you have an idea of what you're in for. And what you're in for is wonderful. It was such a good story and one that surprised me at several turns. And at the heart of the story is Mookie Pearl. He's far from perfect but he wants to do what's right to his daughter and to the organization. He's loyal and caring and not someone to be crossed. And of course there's Wendig's writing. Don't let the violence and vulgarity get in the way of how good the writing is. (And really, it's not that the writing is good in spite of the violence and vulgarity. It all works together in beautiful, bloody harmony.)

You don't control an explosion so much as politely suggest what you want it to do and then pray.

Survivors are like amputees: a part of them cut off, a phantom feeling and false limb put in place as a piss-poor replacement. Hobbling around. Never quite whole again. He doesn't know how death is for the really truly dead, but for those left standing in its wake, it's the worst thing in the world.

If you like crime fiction, if you like noir, if you like Wendig, you should check this out.

Title quote from location 3249

Wendig, Chuck. The Blue Blazes. Amazon Digital Services, 2013. Kindle edition.