Mystic Investigators: Bullets & Brimstone
By Patrick Thomas & John L. French
Published by Dark Quest Books
Review copy purchased by reviewer
Review by Ida Vega-Landow
Fresh from my review of Stefan Kanfer’s bio of Humphrey Bogart, here’s my review of another Bogie fan created by New York homeboy Patrick Thomas. Those of you familiar with the world of Murphy’s Lore will welcome the return of Negral, the forgotten fire god of Sumeria who became the Devil’s Detective to avoid fading away. Fresh from his triumph in Patrick’s previous publication, “Lore and Dysorder”, which this book keeps referring to (or was it this book that preceded “Lore and Dysorder”? Let’s do the Time Warp again!), Negral joins forces with a mortal cop, a police detective named Bianca Jones, to track down one of the Devil’s lost souls. That’s someone who signed a contract with the Devil and tries to get out of it.
Negral’s creator has also joined forces with another author, John French, who created Bianca Jones of Baltimore, otherwise known as Charm City, a tough lady cop who’s had experience dealing with the occult and has beaten the Devil three times. I’m not familiar with this French fella, but Patrick assures me that he’s the real deal, a crime scene supervisor in Baltimore, who seems to be into the fantastic and the supernatural as much as my homeboy. I’m as impressed with his creation, Bianca Jones, as I would be with any tough female cop. Being a bit of a tough broad myself, I’m always looking for suitable role models. Any woman who can take on the entire Baltimore police force, the local bad guys, and the Devil himself, and still win the love of a good man (her husband Joe Russo, a former CSI who now runs an arcane bookstore) is okay by me.
The book consists of a short, humorous introduction written by Patrick himself, followed by three chapters: “Dysclaimer”, in which our hero meets Sergeant Jones in his search for the lost soul. “Dysciple”, in which Negral finds a worshipper, an arsonist who learns his true name and devotes himself to the service of the former fire god, tempting him to revive his worship on Earth, which would enable him to void his contract with Satan. “Dysappeared”, in which an unknown enemy takes Negral prisoner and Bianca is the only one who can save him. She, too, is tempted, to either leave Negral where he is or force him to serve her in return for her help. Aside from the usual problem with mechanics (missing words, extra words and scrambled syntax that should have been caught by a cautious editor, or a simple Spellcheck), Patrick is at his best here. So is French; it’s easy to see which parts were written by who. Negral narrates in the first person, while Bianca’s bits are written in third person.
By the way, Patrick, it wasn’t Bacall on that last plane from Casablanca, it was Ingrid Bergman. Get it straight in your future editions, will you? I can forgive you for the misspellings and other editing problems, but don’t mess with Bogie or his movies, damn it! Get the facts straight, like a good PI should, or this particular Bogie fan may give you a knuckle sandwich at the next con where I find you signing books. Or maybe I’ll just give you a good tongue-lashing; it’s easier to buy a fresh tongue from the local butcher and use it to whip you into shape than trying to make a sandwich out of pig’s knuckles.
The rest of you mooks should make tracks to www.darkquestbooks.com or www.patrickthomas.net and shell out a fin via credit card to get your hands on this tract about crime and punishment, in and out of Hell. It may not be as high-brow as Dante’s Inferno, but at least it’ll keep you off the streets and out of temptation’s way. I know that Mark Twain said, “No girl was ever ruined by a book”, but I like to think that good books can be a good influence on people. Maybe I’ll test my theory by sending Patrick Thomas a copy of “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” by Lynne Truss to help him with his little editing problem. Just kidding, Patrick, you know I love your work. But that doesn’t stop me from picking it apart. That is what critics are for, you know.