Dial M for Mudder by R. J. Hore

MUDDER
Dial M for Mudder by R. J. Hore
The Housetrap Chronicles
Publisher: Burst Book
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (110 Pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

In Central City’s shady underworld, even the mob bosses have trouble with theft. Randolph C. Aloysius, a well-known local detective who prefers to work alone, is hired by the Big Gnome (aka Fat Bob) to recover a missing statue. And the Big Gnome insists Randy take famous assassin, Faster Frederica, an X-rated Troll who likes to play with knives, along with him.

If that is not trouble enough, Randy must lead an expedition into the swamps of Venus made up of Faster, a Hobgoblin senior citizen, with a teenage Goblin for a guide. Did I mention the evil wizard?
Swamps filled with hungry plants and other nasty things, and a dungeon, complete the foggy picture. Of course, treachery abounds; just another normal day at Randy’s office.

Randolph C. Aloysius is a Central City private eye who is hired to recover a missing statue. The case turns nasty and Randy’s employer assigns him a bodyguard, Faster Frederica, an X-rated Troll. I enjoyed the description of the traffic jam they end up in on the way to a victim’s apartment as I think that the description captures both the city and the tone of the novel. “The traffic ground almost to a halt here, what with Goblins pushing handcarts down the middle of the road, Trolls sprawled on the sidewalk panhandling, Gremlins lifting purses, Ogres hawking handbags, Fairies flaunting flower arrangements, and Leprechauns who obviously hadn’t been home since yesterday, weaving and dancing through the crowd, singing off-key at the top of their considerable lungs, ignoring any differences between sidewalk and thoroughfare.” Randy has his work cut out for him and before he knows it, he is on his way to the swamps of Venus.

R. J. Hore has written a very enjoyable fantasy crime story with a hard-boiled detective. The plot moves quickly with a number of twists and turns so that Randy has to work hard to stay ahead of the game. He is aided, or at times hampered, by not only Faster, but also Miss Vickky, a Hobgoblin senior citizen, and a teenage Goblin named Scotty. I found myself liking all four of these characters, and it was fun to follow the dynamics between them. Hore’s descriptions of Venus after the Wizards have terraformed it are also amazing, and frightening enough that I never want to go there in person.

I did find it a bit annoying to have every chapter start with a paragraph beginning “I don’t like . . .not since. . .” and end with, “But I digress.” It is true that those paragraphs add color and definition to Randy’s character and life, but I still found the repetitive pattern to be a bit formulaic. However, that really didn’t distract me from a very enjoyable read.

If you like classic crime novels in the noir tradition, then why not read Dial M for Mudder which gives a fun fantasy twist to this genre with interesting characters and a fast moving plot.

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