A GOOD READ: Readers get a chance to take on the tough guys

The first question I was asked at Port Moody Public Library was whether we have any Simon R. Green books. So in honour of that query, here are some gritty, yet funny, urban fantasies featuring a few guys you don’t want to mess with.

Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files is considered by many to be the standard other urban fantasies are compared to. Set in Chicago, the series centres around the cynical, tongue in cheek wizard/private investigator Harry Dresden. When we first meet Harry, he is the prime suspect of a murder and ends up doing consulting work for the police in order to clear his name.

Harry’s big mouth gets him into plenty of trouble as he navigates through the politics of the supernatural world. His need to right any wrongs he sees doesn’t help either.

Fantasy and hard-boiled crime fiction have never melded so well together and the groan-inducing jokes keep this series light and entertaining. There is a short-lived television adaptation and a comic book series and don’t miss the expertly narrated audiobook versions by James Marsters Forzare.

James Stark, a.k.a. Sandman Slim, is the impulsive anti-hero in Richard Kadrey’s action-packed series. You may have to excuse Stark’s anger issues, given that he was betrayed and tricked by his fellow magician friends, who sent him to hell — literally. Eleven years later, with daily unwanted sparring with demons, he has become virtually invincible. Stark manages to get back to Earth, only to find his love murdered.  Sworn to revenge, he tears through Los Angeles to hunt down his enemies.

Kevin Hearne brings a Celtic twist to the genre with The Iron Druid Chronicles and his hero Atticus O’Sullivan. Don’t let his youthful look fool you — O’Sullivan has been around for centuries. But after hiding out peacefully in Arizona, his whereabouts are discovered by his arch-nemesis, who vows to recover the magical sword O’Sullivan stole many moons ago.

Everyone seems to want a piece of him and there isn’t a moment when he is not being visited by gorgeous goddesses, conniving witches, regular cops whose minds are being controlled and other miscellaneous mythical beasts. Not to worry though. O’Sullivan has on his side a loyal Irish wolfhound and a vampire/werewolf lawyer team that charges him $350 per hour.

Mike Carey’s name may be a familiar one if you are a comic book fan. For those who like dry British humour, check out his Felix Castor series. In the first book The Devil You Know, Felix has retired from exorcism and gone back to doing magic at kids’ parties. He is guilt-ridden by his mistake of binding his best friend to a powerful demon. However, when he comes across a troubled ghost haunting the city’s archives, he is forced back into exorcism. But as his friend/demon warned him, he should never have taken that job.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride may conjure up nostalgic feelings of hanging out with your best buddies in high school. Sam is pretty content being your regular high school dropout and burger-flipper. But one potato-hockey-prank-gone-too-far brings him to the attention of Douglas, a local necromancer, who recognizes that not only does Sam have the same abilities as him, he may even be more powerful, and should therefore be eliminated. You can’t help but root for Sam and his band of misfit friends, which includes a talking severed head, a werebear and a waffle-loving harbinger.

A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published every Wednesday. Virginia McCreedy is a librarian at the Port Moody Public Library.


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