Book Review: The Mug Life

ISBN: 978-1-890096-84-7

It’s been a while since I wrote a review of any of Patrick Thomas’ works. The closest I came was my review for “Release The Virgins” on June 10th, an anthology by Michael Ventrella to which Patrick contributed a short story, “The Running of The Drones”. That was done with his usual flair. Now here comes another volume in the Murphy’s Lore After Hours series, in which we learn of the misadventures of Murphy’s motley crew of gods and monsters, along with pixies, demons, immortals and just plain folks along for the ride.

Our man John Murphy tells us two tales in this assortment of stories about the mug life (whether he’s referring to the mugs he fills at Bulfinche’s Pub or the mugs who work and drink there is anyone’s guess). The first one is about an angry man who shows up at Bulfinche’s with his two kids and a gun, determined to repay his ex-wife for taking his kids, the house and half his pension. Murphy manages to defuse the situation with the help of his co-workers and the Mayan death goddess Ixtab, who specializes in suicide, and was there to counsel another customer suffering from terminal cancer. The second story takes place on one of Murphy’s rare days off, when he goes to a mall and runs into Jason Cervantes the cross-dressing cop and Bubba Sue the gremlin, who are now dating. The three of them end up at a lingerie shop, where they have to defuse another bad situation between an angry young woman with a bomb strapped to her chest and one on her ex-boyfriend’s. Don’t waste your time feeling sorry for the guy; he screwed her over badly and even got her deported to Mexico to end their relationship, and she doesn’t even speak Spanish. Two prime examples of love’s labors lost.

All of my other favorites (and hopefully yours) have stories in here as well. Terrorbelle, the half pixie, half ogre, also gets two stories, one set in the Alternate future of the Mystacaust (see “Fools’ Day” published in 2001), the other in the present when she takes on a Hollywood blackmailer. Hex, the cursed magi, gets arrested when the cannibal granny he’s chasing accuses him of her murders. Vince Argus, the Soul for Hire, gets himself arrested so he can carry out a hit on a wife killer who had himself arrested on a minor charge to hide from the hit man in jail. Sir Dagonet, the Infinite Jester, teaches us where gargoyles came from in 13th Century France. Agent Karver of the DMA takes on a murderous dryad avenging the death of her tree when an unsuspecting suburban family cuts it down for Christmas.

There are some newcomers as well, characters who appeared in one or more of Patrick’s past novels who became so popular that he gave them their own stories; Bambi the succubus, the Pink Reaper, even the Phoenixian, whom you may remember as the Phoenix from “Shadow of the Wolf”, published in 2003. He’s a real sucker for punishment; like his namesake, he keeps dying and being reborn, so he gets off on being killed in as many violent ways as possible, knowing he can come back and do it again and again.

So get a copy of “The Mug Life” and spend some quality time with old friends and new ones. True, Patrick could use a better proofreader to weed out unnecessary words and misspellings, as well as correct his punctuation. I’ve pointed this out before, but as usual he ignores me. Maybe he was traumatized in Catholic school by a five foot nun with a 12-inch ruler in English class. But as long as he continues to write stories like this, I’m willing to put up with his haphazard editing. Hopefully, you will too.