Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: The Stein & Candle Detective Agency, Vol. 3: Red Reunion

The Stein & Candle Detective Agency, Vol. 3: Red Reunion
The Stein & Candle Detective Agency, Vol. 3: Red Reunion by Michael Panush

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy/Serial shorts/Pulp or Noir fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult
Recommended for: Fans of the series, pulp fiction, noir, fun stories
Trigger Warnings: There is a fair bit of violence

Disclosure: I received an e-galley ARC from Curiosity Quills via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis (slightly altered for space) courtesy of Goodreads: For Weatherby Stein and Morton Candle – private detectives specializing in the paranormal – life normally isn’t easy. They deal with cases that pit them against ferocious demons in the Tokyo underworld, Satan-worshipping teenagers in a seemingly normal suburb and lizard-men in a Lake Tahoe lounge, and they still manage to come out on top.

But now one of Weatherby’s ancient ancestors, the villainous Viscount Wagner Stein, has been resurrected and is looking to stir up trouble – and he’s not alone.

Facing down dangers from the past like the Viscount and the newly arisen Dracula, Lord of Vampires, Weatherby and Mort have no choice but call in help. They’ll bring in Weatherby’s sister, a college student studying folklore and her beatnik boyfriend. They’ll bring in Morton’s squad mates, a tough bunch of soldiers who stormed through Europe together. And they’ll bring in a hulking monster named Adam, with another connection to the past of Weatherby’s family.

Weatherby, Morton and their allies make a stand to stop the evils of the past from corrupting of the future – and only one faction will make it out of the battle alive.

My Thoughts: I have read this entire series so far (Vol 1 review here and Vol 2 review here where links are permitted) and quite enjoyed it. This is very pulpy pulp fiction, so if that doesn’t appeal to you, these books probably won’t entertain you as much as they have me, but we each have our own vices and mine happens to be pulp fiction.

The first two books contained a few short stories apiece, and were really fairly short. This one is much longer, the stories almost reaching novella length, which I quite enjoyed. The first four stories—the basic plotlines to three of which (plus the first Dracula story) are explained in the first paragraph of the synopsis—take up exactly 50 percent of the book. Then there is a two-part final story. According to the end notes, this is the end of a trilogy, but Panush will be releasing some new series in the upcoming year. After these very enjoyable books, and his other book Dinosaur Jazz (review here where links are allowed), all of which are very good stories, I’m very much looking forward to what he will come up with next!

There are a number of typos in this book, including the consistent misuse of “breaks” instead of “brakes,” and missing and extra words. NetGalley usually provides ARC copies of books, so hopefully most of these issues will be fixed in the final book. This is the only reason I have dropped the rating to 4 stars, as it was distracting.

This book takes a sharp turn into noir in the last half of the book, but we really move deeply into the characters. While it is left open for potentially more stories—just in case—the ongoing issues that have been faced throughout the series are all more-or-less cleared up, and this is a very satisfying conclusion to the overall series. I really do recommend you check out this talented, young writer—I know I have very much enjoyed his books.

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