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SURF CITY ACID DROP

Come For the Wonderfully Bizarre Title; Stay for Like A Hundred Descriptions of Beer-Drinking

By Billy Higgins Peery, author of A Bad Idea

Sep 4, 2015: Surf City Acid Drop leans on the breezy coastal atmosphere and standard crime tropes pretty hard, but honestly? That’s half the fun.

This is a tale of coastal crime, pure and simple. Terlson keeps everything light because it’s supposed to be light. There’s a flurry of details which allow you to really see Mexico the way that Luke is seeing it. The emphasis isn’t on the action—though there are some fun fight scenes—nor is it on the characters, who are a little on the thin side.

The emphasis is on the atmosphere. As the cliche goes, Mexico’s a character in and of itself here, and boy is it beautifully portrayed. One of my favorite bits is in the very first chapter, when Luke describes the bar he’s sitting in, El Rayo Verde, where all sorts of tequila bottles are lined up, catching the Mexican sun. The character doesn’t stay in Mexico for the duration of the serial, but it’s fun while it lasts. And even the other parts of the world are well-described by Terlson.

Sometimes the attempt at surf noir prose get a little purple, one of the many examples being when Luke says, “Any moment, I expected the girl from Ipanema to stroll right up and buy me a shot.” In and of itself it’s not a bad line, but they tend to add up pretty quickly.

Still, for all the purple prose, some of the lines really do sing. One bit that comes to mind involves Luke mixing up the sound of a wailing trumpet with the sound of a police siren. It’s a perfect noir detail—one which I can imagine getting filmed in black-and-white (or perhaps in that hazy 70s style, since this is really a neo-noir).

So: if you’re looking for surf noir, I’d recommend this. If you want to feel like you’re a white guy drinking beers in Mexico, I’d recommend this.

But honestly? It’s a beach read. Don’t expect grand revelations, or deep characters. Just expect to read a lot about a guy drinking at bars and punching people. (Also a bit of macho posturing, due to the guys continually punching each other. YMMV.)

It’s fun, it zips by, and that’s all it needs to do.

NOTE: Though the serial currently has 23 chapters up, I’m only on 14. I’m going to keep reading this, but wanted to get this review up while the serial was still ongoing. It was apparently written as a novel, not a serial, so if you want to read along while it’s posted, you better come fast!

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TALES OF THE HOTEL ST CRISPIAN

Film Noir in Primary Colours

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Apr 9, 2013: This is something different, a sort of hybrid webfiction and webcomic. The meandering tales have a film noir quality, and are illustrated by cartoon figures made up of primary shapes and colours and the odd photo. (I’m not sure what program would be used to create this, but it’s not one of the most advanced graphic design software!)

I must admit neither the stories nor the illustrations are particularly to my tastes, but written and recommended respectively by such webfiction greats as Dan Leo and Kathleen Maher, it’s worth taking a look at if you feel at all curious. Someone out there is going to find it immensely quirky and wonderful, and write a review to tell me I’m all wrong.

At the time of this review, "St. Crispian" is regularly updating and has been active since 2011.

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BLACK HAT MAGICK

Geeky Techno-Magical Mystery

By Shutsumon, author of Tales of the First

Jun 13, 2010: Goodness me, my second review of a Kyt Dotson work in less than a week. Another good one at that. Does that make me a fan? I guess it does.

Black Hat Magick is a contemporary fantasy mystery. The main character – Elaine – is a university student/tech support geek/paranormal detective. So often in modern fantasy magic and technology don’t mix. Not so in this universe, and that’s a refreshing change.

The story is a mystery. Elaine is hired to find out who’s fixing student elections by supernatural means, but even here there is a twist. Her employer is the beneficiary of the fraud, not the victim. The threats are smaller than your average urban fantasy, but as things develop they end up being bad enough.

It only gets better . . . 

Likes:

  1. Very interesting characters. Some people may find the tech and popular culture references annoying, but they are completely in character.
  2. I like the way magic and technology are not at odds.
  3. Nice clean layout.

Dislikes:

  1. The layout is clean, but it’s also light-on-dark which is a little annoying (and some people really don’t like it).
  2. There are a few typos (but I’ve seen a lot worse in traditionally published books)
  3. As with Mill Avenue Vexations I occassionally found myself skimming because nothing much was happening.

Verdict:

Yup, It’s another solid urban fantasy by Kyt Dotson. If that’s your thing go and read it now.

Unlike Vexations this one is finished. But I’m sure there’s a lot more tales could be told of Elaine and her colleagues, so I hope a sequel is planned.

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