Sunday, June 3, 2012

Murder in the Bough - fun urban fantasy

Murder in the Bough 

by Jamie Sedgwick

Enjoyment *** Plot *** Interactions *** Characters ** World *** Originality ****Grammar **** Style ***

Murder in the Bough is an urban fantasy detective mystery. To most people who know him, Hank Mossberg is a San Francisco private investigator with a skin problem. To the rest, he is known as the Warden and his skin condition is quite normal for an ogre. In this case, 'the rest' is the magical population of San Francisco. This population is actually quite large and varied and is filled with Elves, Dwarfs, Pixies, Nymphs. Pick a fairy tale, they are probably lurking around somewhere.

As the Warden to the magical fae, Hank Mossberg is the law. Being an Ogre makes him uniquely qualified for the job. He is large, strong and immune to most magic. He gets a small stipend and a small apartment in the 'Mother tree'.  The Mother tree is a one hundred and fifty foot tall tree that the magical population has moved into a warehouse in San Francisco. It is the tree from which all other trees spring and it is home to hundreds of fae. Besides homes,  the Mother contains is a five star restaurant and Hank's jail.

 Hank has a few problems: he is an ogre - the last of his kind; a key piece of evidence his case against a drug running Elven mob family has disappeared from his impenetrable safe; the mob boss has been murdered and Hank's taking the blame; his latest PI case seems to be a dead end; and, last, but not least, his love life is on the rocks. Whenever he touches a magical fae woman, she passes out. It makes it hard to get a second date.

The story follows Hank as he attempts to solve his problems and not get dead while doing it.

Mr. Sedgwick is a little too spare with his descriptions.  For example, we find out that Hank has an apartment in the Mother tree, but we don't come away with any real sense of the place. I'd have liked to read more about the unique settings and more descriptions of the characters.  As it is, Mr. Sedgwick relies on stereotypes and fairytales to provide that detail for the reader.

This sparcity is also evident in the characters in the story.  They struck me as stereotypical without a lot of surprises.

Hank is a likeable protagonist in an interesting world.  He has a strong sense of justice with an unfortunate tendency to lose his temper and make rash decisions.  The storyline is straight forward and entertaining and the story is overall a fast, light and fun read.  Mr. Sedgwick has an interesting new take on the underground magical world that is the base of so much urban fantasy and his writing style is clean and transparent with some good humorous highlights.

Overall, it is a decent, fun read and I enjoyed my time in Hank's world. If this becomes a series, I will probably buy the second book.

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