RogerBW's Blog

Breaking the Lore, Andy Redsmith 30 December 2022

2019 comic fantasy, first of the Inspector Paris series. Paris is a hard-drinking Mancunian detective, but he's not prepared for a beautiful woman crucified in a suburban garden. Or for her to be fifteen centimetres tall.

This reminds me slightly of Practical Demonkeeping: fantasy meeting the modern world in a Tom Holt-ish vein, but explicitly comedic rather than just relying on people being incompetent (though there's that too). But where Moore quickly grated on me with his attempts at comedy, Redsmith is more in line with my style. Paris isn't a genius but he is a competent copper, and the allies he makes along the way (including a chain-smoking crow) have their own blind spots but are basically good at the things they can do. This helps to maintain a dramatic tension, that decisions matter and the outcome is in doubt, rather than just leaving the characters to be passed around from one stock comic situation to another. For example:

‘Malbus has his agents in place,’ replied Tergil. ‘They have done their initial reconnaissance and fed the information back to him. They are a crack team.’

Paris raised an eyebrow. ‘They’re squirrels.’

‘Highly trained espionage operatives, if you do not mind. Who else would be able to climb the walls and peek in the windows without being spotted?’

Yes, this could be just another joke, and it works as just another joke, but it's also an important part of what's going on and how Paris and others deal with this hostage situation. And when it comes to revealing how the preternaturally dim Sergeant Bonetti had his life changed by a copy of The Female Eunuch… I won't spoil it, but again it works, both as a funny moment and as a thing that might legitimately happen to that character that tells us more about who he is.

There are fairies, and elves, and dwarves, and dragons, and demons, and possible invasions, and sudden reversals. It's perhaps a little plodding in the early chapters, establishing Paris and his place in the world and then bringing in one supernatural creature after another, but the writing and characterisation carried me over the rough spots and I ended up rather enjoying it.

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See also:
Practical Demonkeeping, Christopher Moore

Series: Inspector Paris | Next in series: Know Your Rites

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