Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Bard Reviews: Dog (E. M. Faustus Series)

Book cover

The Book:  Dog (E M Faustus Series)
The Author:  Christopher Davison
Description (on Amazon): EM Faustus. Private Eye. 
Looking forward to smoke number seven of the day. Then life gets complicated.  Complicated as in the walking dead, armed with fly swats. Complicated as in vampire waitresses with the best coffee you’ll ever taste. Complicated as in werewolf best mate’s, with breast fixations. And complicated as in more than one god getting really hacked off with him. All he has to do is find a lost dog, clear up a parenting issue and not get killed. All in a day’s work for the only P.I in a world filled with the ‘differently alive’. If he can stay alive long enough. If he stays alive long enough, maybe even the talking duck will make sense. But don’t count on it.
EM Faustus. Private Eye. Oh -and really, really don’t ask what the EM stands for. He gets upset.

The Skinny: E M Faustus is a human detective who just so happens to work in a segregated territory where everything non-human dwells.  Expect every genre of fantasy/religious being except space aliens to make an appearance as he takes the case of a daemon/angel hybrid who really wants to find his missing dog.  Too bad an interspecies war and a contact for his head (literally) stands in the way.  Too bad for the bad guys, that is…

The Fat:  Christopher Davison is a pretty daring author.  There have been other supernatural detective tales before, but none I’ve read have placed their fingers in every mythical pie possible and raked all the filling into one plate before.  The result is a story both entertaining and sometimes muddled at the same time.
The titular character E M Faustus (don’t ask what the E M stands for) is the kind of detective pulled from the Bogart era of hardboiled noir detectives and placed in a world where ducks talk and vampires serve you coffee.  The name Faustus brings to mind Faust, the character known for selling his soul in a bargain with the devil.  Aptly, Davison flips the convention and has Faustus sell a piece of his soul in a bargain with God at one point in the story.  

That however is no the main portion of the tale.  It starts with Faustus taking on a case from being that smells like chocolate and brimstone –an angel/daemon hybrid, of course.  The being, who is called ‘Pete’, is a strangely na├»ve, man-child who has no idea of his heritage or his destructive powers.  He’s like an inexperienced Hellboy without the demonic appearance.  All Pete wants if for Faustus to find his missing dog, who is called Dog.  Seems simple enough.

Naturally it isn’t.  Dog isn’t really important.  He’s a MacGuffin, used in many stories and films as a device to keep the characters moving and drives the plot.  It’s not the destination; it’s the journey along the way.  And what a journey it is.  There are vampire gangs, werewolf best friends, a talking duck (the preferred form of a shape-shifter name Sid), elf assassins, zombie surgeons, mad scientists, Michael the archangel, Satan and God, just to scratch the surface.

And that’s where the story starts to bog down a bit.  Davison has enough plot elements for two stories.  I understand the purpose: he wants to take the reader along for a tour of the complex world that he’s created.  It’s obvious that he’s spent a lot of time developing his original spin on the mythical beings and deities that inhabit his world.  At the same time it’s not necessary to get the whole picture at once –since this a series type story, there’s always time to explore in further books.  

What keeps the story going is the characterization, mainly in the character of E M Faustus.  His dry wit and cynical narration winks along with the reader, keeping the story from becoming overly dramatic and causes the pace to zip along even when taking detours.  There are a number of hilarious references within, and a slew of likeable supporting characters.  

The Bottom Line:  Dog is a nice intro to both the world of Faustus and the writing of Christopher Davison.  It makes for a good read when you’re in the mood for something funny and action driven.  Readers who like a twist on the average detective noir yarn should enjoy this book nicely. 

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