Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe and The Dark-Elf
by William Schlichter
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 27 May 2021 | Archive Date 22 Apr 2021
Bacardi and Coke. Neat.
Not the usual drink of choice for a mountain dwarf. Then again, Detective Sirgrus Blackmane is no ordinary dwarf—at least not since the Great War. Being a gumshoe during Prohibition might appear glamorous, with secret speakeasies, all-night cocktail parties, and scantily clad women displaying their knees, but crime and conspiracy lurk beneath the city’s shining illusion.
When the human half of the Mason and Blackmane Detective Agency is found dead at the scene of a rum-running bust, Sirgrus vows to find the killer. But this quest for justice leads him straight into a tangled web of underhanded deals with demihuman mobsters who are fighting for control of the rum supply.
And when two more corpses turn up, Sirgrus must work double-time if he wants to find the killer—and avoid turning up dead at the next crime scene.
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"Readers are in for some fun." — Publishers Weekly
"Readers are in for some fun." — Publishers Weekly
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Average rating from 15 members
I am a D&D nerd. I also am a big fan of urban fantasy, and appreciate a little bit of the gumshoe schlock of the classic Raymond Chandler school of pulp fiction. Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe & The Dark-Elf really nails it in all of those genres and was an absolute delight to discover. The story opens up with us meeting Sirgrus Blackmane, a Dwarf who, after the Great War in Europa against the Orcs, opened up a detective agency with his war buddy, Craig Mason. It turns out, though, that Mason had a whole lot going on regarding the rum-running organized crime bosses in town that Sirgrus just wasn’t privy to. The story opens with Sirgrus being escorted by the cops to a busted illegal whiskey barrelhouse. Of interest to Sirgrus is one dead Craig Mason. On top of all that, Sirgrus finds himself investigating the death of a singer from The Dark-Elf that seems to have some very interesting ties to Mason’s death. Oh, all the while, he’s also trying to figure out what Mason promised these mob bosses, and how he can fix the situation without getting killed. Yeah, it’s not a fun situation for our hero. Mr. Schlichter sets up this story masterfully. It has all the hallmarks of great pulp fiction, with the added twist of the Demihuman slant. The world-building is wonderfully on-point, and I really wanted to know a lot more about the Great War and the aftermath. One sign of a really well thought fictional world is the ability of the reader to see that it really could expand well beyond the pages of the book they are reading. So much was hinted and teased that I really hope we have more Sirgrus Blackmane adventures in the future. There are definitely a few loose ends that need to be addressed.
Review for Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe and The Dark-Elf – Book #1 of the Sirgrus Blackmane Series by William Schlichter My rating: 4 stars. Reading Time: 2 days. Thanks to NetGalley, publisher and author for access to the book. An unusual fantasy style, with lead character being a mountain dwarf running a private investigator service with his human business partner who he served with during the war. To top that he is managing his PTSD with alcohol during the prohibition. What could possibly go wrong? Plot overview: Sirgrus is called to a rumrunner bust to look into a body that has been discovered during the raid. To solve the murder, he has to deal with the city’s shady underbelly, work along side a mage in the Justice department and relive the harrows of the war. DON’T MENTION THE WAR. TRIGGER WARNING – War, PTSD. Sirgrus is everything you would expect from an ex-officer who experienced all the harrows of war time, just trying to get back to real life. He has a strong sense of honour, but a jaded view of the world and battles daily with flashbacks that he manages with rum and whiskey. Not an easy task during the prohibition. His private detective business is struggling, and his business partner seems to care more about chasing skirt then helping to keep the bills paid. A well-written story where you can’t help but feel for Sirgrus’ situation and even when it gets tough, he seems to always try to do the best he can without others suffering unnecessarily. Segregation within the magic community and his own prejudices make things tricky to get the job done. An enjoyable read for those who prefer a less than perfect hero. I would recommend to those that prefer urban fantasies, a good murder mystery and have an interest in the 2nd World War as this is a reoccurring theme throughout the book. I personally do not usually enjoy anything that relates to war but I did enjoy this book. I am looking forward to the next instalment in this series.
Sirgrus Blackmane is a private detective and a mountain dwarf in post-World War I New York City. When his human partner Mason is found dead on the site of a prohibition bust, Sirgrus learns that his partner and old war buddy was hiding things from him, notably where he had been getting a lot of money. Trying to make enough money to keep the lights on, find his partner’s killer, find out what illicit things Mason was doing, dodge the dangerous men who believe Sirgrus was in on Mason’s operation and want him to deliver on his promises without explaining what it is he is meant to do, Sirgrus has a lot on his plate even before the human woman turns up at his office wanting him to prove her sister’s death was not a suicide. Oh, and there is a man _ but is he a man? - who is after the packages that turned up on the same day as Mason’s murder, sent from their own army superior. There is a lot going on in this book, yet for I’d say the first 45% of it, it felt like nothing was happening. Sirgrus was moving around, asking questions and making a lot of people angry, amassing enemies while failing to amass information, and repeatedly assuring the reader he doesn’t talk or think about the war while experiencing nightmares and frequent intrusive thoughts about his time in the trenches. Once the halfway point was reached, the pace picked up, the threads started to come together, and the novel became a lot more interesting. The universe it is set in is an alternate version of our world, one in which various creatures from fantasy fiction live side by side with humans. World War I happened but the enemy was orcs, there is a hint towards the end of the book that Europe (here called Europa) is ruled by vampires, and the United States have a dragon president. (I kind of wanted to know more about the dragon president. Seriously that little tidbit was just dropped in there. As I said, there is a lot going on in this book.) Yet it is the roaring twenties we know, complete with prohibition, corrupt cops, speakeasies, and flappers. Because this world is so complex, I understand that Schlichter took his time to set up some of the elements before really diving into the story, but I still wish the meaty heart of the mystery had been explored earlier. There is a lot here to like: the unlikely allies of Sirgrus and the mage G-Man Edgeangel have a nice relationship, the fairy Rhonda who works as Sirgrus’ secretary deserves to be developed further, and the set up of the fairies gaining the right to vote and the consequences this could have in the world could be very interesting. The mystery is good, once I managed to figure out which strands were actually important, and the reveal was a surprise, yet one that made complete sense. Overall I really enjoyed this book, but it left me strangely emotionally detached. Sirgrus is as gruff as most private detectives in fiction, but it took a bit too long for him to reveal his softer side so I barely started caring about him when the book ended. I admit my lukewarm reaction may be that when I read the description I pictured it in the style of “The Last Smile in Sunder City”, and it was in some ways, but the emotional arc of the character didn’t run as deep. I can’t fault a book for not being what I thought it would be, that’s on me. I do recommend the book because the mystery and world building were good, even though the beginning was a little slow.
I received an advanced e-book ARC of this novel, thanks to Net Galley and the publisher. This book made me smile and laugh throughout, as it comes across as a fun genre-mix. Some scenes directly reminded me of classic noir such as The Maltese Falcon. The author successfully hit all of the beats expected from that type of story while also including the interesting elements one would expect from a traditional fantasy story. The protagonist is a grumpy dwarf private detective dealing with a murder investigation in a 1920s-esque Prohibition era setting. I really enjoyed it.
This is a clever and inventive novel about a dwarf detective who operates in Prohibition-era New York. Dragons and mages occupy senior government positions, and the fae have just won the vote. Blackmane is dragged to a crime scene by Edgeangel, a mage FBI agent, to discover that the victim is his human partner Mason. Edgeangel tasks Sirgrus with solving the crime, which very quickly leads him into contretemps with both a dragon-born rum-runner and his human competitor. Sirgrus has just two days to solve Mason's murder, and pacify both crime lords, or lose his life too. This could have just been an enjoyable romp, but Schlichter lends it a weightier tone. Sirgrus served with Mason in the trenches of the Great War; dwarves were assigned to human units to assist with digging the trenches. They fought together against orcs allied with the Germans in a series of bloody pitched battles. Sirgrus is prone to horrific flashbacks of his war experiences. These war scenes lift the novel above being just a hard-boiled crime caper, and make it a more serious read.
Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe and The Dark-Elf is a hard boiled PI mystery with a fantasy setting. Due out 27th May 2021 from BHC Press, it's 220 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats at release. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. I've been a fan of gritty noir books (and films) since forever. I revisit many of my perennial favorites often. My pantheon includes Hammett, Cain, Chandler, and Hughes, and this fantasy twist on the hardboiled PI archetype kept me engaged from the first chapter. With the codicil that the main protagonist isn't a human (he's a dwarf) and the setting isn't earth (it's alternate-earth-slightly post WW1 prohibition era USA New York(ish)), this could be a period piece straight out of the 1940s pulps. There are some grim/heavy themes: abduction, prostitution, corruption, sexual abuse, drug abuse, PTSD, and war (to name a few). Sirgrus is trying to keep his head above water (and attached to his neck) pay the bills and keep his trauma from the war from overwhelming him. Despite those facts, there really is quite a lot of humor here, and I found myself smiling often whilst reading. The dialogue is very well done and true to the spirit of the period. The characters were well fleshed out and believable and although I had a pretty good grasp on where the author was going into the denouement and resolution, there were a few twists I didn't see coming at all. Well played, Mr Schlichter, well played. I sincerely hope this wasn't a one-off standalone novel and I will be eagerly looking forward to future adventures. This would be a good one for fans of hard boiled detective fiction, period fantasy, and PI fiction. Really well done. Four stars. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
My thanks to NetGalley and BHC Press for an advanced copy of this fantasy novel. A private detective haunted by war and what he did to survive, tries to solve the murder of his partner in a dark city ruled by the underworld and filled with corruption during Prohibition. For a mountain dwarf, the only one of his people still in the city this case might be the hardest case he's ever had and his last. In Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe and The Dark-Elf, written by William Schlichter, Sirgrus Blackmane, a war veteran of the Great War, is one of the last of the dwarves to stay in the city of Chicago, and it's only nonhuman private detective. Crime rules, magic is disappearing and nobody, human, dragon, faerie is to be trusted. The book is hardboiled in the best pulp sense. The story of a dead partner is not new, but the treatment and the characters are what sell the story. Not much is explained, why did the dwarves leave, how long have humans and nonhumans coexisted, how has history changed. Hints are dropped, which is nice as it means that there might be more stories to come. Which is a very good thing. The story is very noir, with a light touch of the fantasy. The characters are interesting, and enough is left unsaid that the reader wants to know more. A very promising start to a possible series.
Detective Sirgrus Blackmane is no ordinary dwarf—at least not since the Great War. Being a gumshoe during Prohibition might appear glamorous, with secret speakeasies, all-night cocktail parties, and scantily clad women displaying their knees, but crime and conspiracy lurk beneath the city’s shining illusion. When the human half of the Mason and Blackmane Detective Agency is found dead at the scene of a rum-running bust, Sirgrus vows to find the killer. But this quest for justice leads him straight into a tangled web of underhanded deals with demihuman mobsters who are fighting for control of the rum supply. And when two more corpses turn up, Sirgrus must work double-time if he wants to find the killer—and avoid turning up dead at the next crime scene. Fantasy, mystery, noir. Three of my favorite things. Sirgrus is a believable character. Suffering from PTSD after serving in the trenches of the Great War, Sirgrus is trying to find out who killed his partner while staying alive himself. Sound familiar? It should since it's the basis for many mainstream noir novels. But in this version, there's a dwarf, ogres, trolls and even a dragon who is president. Prohibition with a backdrop that includes magical creatures. I hope there are more in this series.
A fantasy sub-genre I've never read and not sure even existed before now; Noir. Meet Sirgrus Blackmane a Dwarf and gumshoe during Prohibition. This includes, scandalous women and Fae who wear hemlines above their calves, secret speakeasies, an historical Great War, and conspiracies around every corner. The death of Blackmane's human partner at the BlackMane Detective Agency is a mystery Sirgrus is determined to solve. The solution will bring up more questions then answers. Why did his partner keep a rum running side hustle a secret? More importantly, why was he dealing with demihuman mobsters? If Sirgrus doesn't answer them soon it will result in his own death at the hands of Ogres or Rock Giants or perhaps a wizard. Colorful settings, demihuman characters with depth and a plot full of fun twists make this book an enjoyable and quick read. I'm ready for more.
A fun genre-mixing story of hard-boiled detective, urban fiction with a less than perfect hero, and a Prohibition setting. The main character is a detective who is trying to find out who killed his human partner. But things are complicated by magic, his PTSD from fighting in the Great War and the prejudice between races. This will appeal to fans of both genres. It is nice to have a main character who isn’t a kick-ass female special one (those are great but recently it seems that the field is overweighted in that direction). Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in return for an honest opinion.
A great mix of noir and fantasy, a Marlowe living in a fantasy world. Gripping, entertaining and well written. Excellent world building and character development, a plot that kept me hooked. I'd like to read other books featuring these characters. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Ok Tolkien fans. Ok Raymond Chandler fans. A dwarf, an Elf, a Human and an Orc walk into a bar. Wait! Ha! The dwarf and the human are partners in a detective agency during the Prohibition era. Crime solving is tricky when the booze runners meet magic. As fall back pulp fiction, this book is a hoot. I loved it. My thanks to the author and Netgalley for a complimentary copy.
If you've ever wanted to read a book about dwarves, fairies, humans, and more mixing in Prohibition Era society, plus more than a dash of mystery, murder, and moonshine running then this is the book for you. To be fair, I'm a little biased towards this type of book, but it is quite unique in setting and it holds potential for more exciting PI cases. Sirgrus Blackmane is a private investigator, WWI veteran, and a dwarf (battle-ax and all). The story begins with his human PI partner dead in a warehouse filled with illegal alcohol, leading Sirgrus to the obvious conclusion that he didn't know everything about his partner and former brother in arms. Mason was a womanizer for sure, but apparently he got mixed up with two of the city's deadliest mob bosses and he owed them both favors that they expect Sirgrus to uphold. This story delves into the supernatural in exciting and unexpected ways, but it's also an excellent character study. Sirgrus, having fought in the trenches of World War I against the orcish enemy, is haunted by what he has both seen and done. War is hell and he lived through it, but he didn't come home without scars of his own. Neither did the other men he fought beside. His dead partner Mason was an absolute shit husband an father, but was tight lipped about his home life (and lack thereof). They handled their life experiences quite differently and I found the flashbacks to be disturbing, yet they succeeded in making the reader feel the visceral horror. This was an impressive story, though not without its imperfections. Some of the era-appropriate lingo was confusing and required a quick Google. The minor characters weren't likable, but it did suit their situations and even the time period. Sirgrus himself was somewhat morally grey, though overall he had the air of "good guy" about him. I'm looking forward to where we may follow Sirgrus Blackmane next!
In the vane of Raymond Chandler, You meet Sirgrus at the scene of his partners murder. Schlichter pays homage to the classic noir novels, full of dames and the tortured returned from war. All of this is the backdrop to solving a murder that is thought to be a suicide. Schlichter seamlessly incorporates the fantasy world of dwarves, orcs, fey, and vampires. Of course, as is the way with the human world, racism and discrimination effect many aspects of life. There is so much more to explore in this world.