Published: May 27, 2021
Publisher: BHC Press
Pages: 220 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Bacardi and Coke. Neat.
Not the usual drink of choice for a mountain dwarf. Then again, Detective Sirgrus Blackmane is no ordinary dwarf—at least not since the Great War. Being a gumshoe during Prohibition might appear glamorous, with secret speakeasies, all-night cocktail parties, and scantily clad women displaying their knees, but crime and conspiracy lurk beneath the city’s shining illusion.
When the human half of the Mason and Blackmane Detective Agency is found dead at the scene of a rum-running bust, Sirgrus vows to find the killer. But this quest for justice leads him straight into a tangled web of underhanded deals with demihuman mobsters who are fighting for control of the rum supply.
And when two more corpses turn up, Sirgrus must work double-time if he wants to find the killer—and avoid turning up dead at the next crime scene.
If you’ve ever wanted to read a book about dwarves, fairies, humans, and more mixing in Prohibition Era society, plus more than a dash of mystery, murder, and moonshine running then this is the book for you. To be fair, I’m a little biased towards this type of book, but it is quite unique in setting and it holds potential for more exciting PI cases.
Sirgrus Blackmane is a private investigator, WWI veteran, and a dwarf (battle-ax and all). The story begins with his human PI partner dead in a warehouse filled with illegal alcohol, leading Sirgrus to the obvious conclusion that he didn’t know everything about his partner and former brother in arms. Mason was a womanizer for sure, but apparently he got mixed up with two of the city’s deadliest mob bosses and he owed them both favors that they expect Sirgrus to uphold.
This story delves into the supernatural in exciting and unexpected ways, but it’s also an excellent character study. Sirgrus, having fought in the trenches of World War I against the orcish enemy, is haunted by what he has both seen and done. War is hell and he lived through it, but he didn’t come home without scars of his own. Neither did the other men he fought beside. His dead partner Mason was an absolute shit husband an father, but was tight lipped about his home life (and lack thereof). They handled their life experiences quite differently and I found the flashbacks to be disturbing, yet they succeeded in making the reader feel the visceral horror.
This was an impressive story, though not without its imperfections. Some of the era-appropriate lingo was confusing and required a quick Google. The minor characters weren’t likable, but it did suit their situations and even the time period. Sirgrus himself was somewhat morally grey, though overall he had the air of “good guy” about him. I’m looking forward to where we may follow Sirgrus Blackmane next!