I'm a big fan of Jim Butcher and Simon R. Green,
so I jumped at the chance to read Mean Streets, a new collection of urban fantasy. It has four novellas by some of the biggest names in the field. Butcher's story, "The Warrior" and Green's "The Difference a Day Makes" were good, but I was so impressed by the stories by Kat Richardson and Thomas E. Sniegoski that I've ordered all of their other books featuring the characters in these stories.
Readers need to be aware that all of these stories, published in 2009, pick up after the latest book in the series. If you haven't read the latest books, you might want to wait to read these stories. If you're up-to-date with your reading, you'll be eager to pick these up.
Jim Butcher's "The Warrior" is a Harry Dresden story, picking up after Turn Coat. Dresden, the wizard from Chicago, fears that someone is targeting his friend, Michael, the retired Knight of the Cross. It's a story that actually brought tears to my eyes, a little unusual for urban fantasy. But, Harry doesn't realize the changes he brings to his world.
"The Difference a Day Makes" brings Simon R. Green's John Taylor back, in a story of the Nightside. It follows Just Another Judgement Day, but it isn't necessary to have read it. When a woman shows up at Strangefellows bar in the Nightside, "the dark secret hidden in the heart of London", Taylor knows she doesn't belong there. But, she's lost 24 hours of her life, and needs Taylor to find out what happened. She followed her husband there, but has no memory. It's another graphically nasty story of the ugly, sinful world.
I had heard the title Greywalker, but I wasn't familiar with Kat Richardson's books. "The Third Death of the Little Grey Dog" is a terrific introduction to her character, Harper Blaine. Harper died for just two minutes, but those two minutes allows her to be a Greywalker, seeing, and communicating with the dead. In this story, Harper accepts a curious job, to take a statuette of a clay dog to a grave in Mexico, and spend El Día de los Muertos in the cemetery. It will take a Greywalker to find the story behind that grave.
Thomas E. Sniegoski's Remy Chandler was introduced in A Kiss Before the Apocalypse, a book I now have on order. He returns in this novella, "Noah's Orphans." Remy Chandler is an Angel, a Seraphim who made the decision to live as a human, working as a private investigator. One of the Grigori, a fallen angel, calls on Remy for help when Noah is murdered. But, the Grigori isn't telling Remy all he knows. This was a terrific story. There are only two books in this series, so far. I can't wait to read the first.
My favorite urban fantasies are detective stories that happen to have an investigator with unusual powers. Mean Streets features fascinating characters and storylines. It's a treat for those of us who follow these authors, giving us a taste of their work while we wait for the next book. In my case, it introduced me to two more authors I'll be reading.
Mean Streets. Penguin Group, ©2009. ISBN 9780451462497 (paperback), 368p.