(I got ahold of a pre-release copy of Trickster Noir that I used to create this review.)
There was a TV show called Mannix that I used to watch long ago. The hero was a private eye. It seemed like every week he’d get in a scrape, there’d be a lot of tough-guy action, and as often as not someone would put lead in him.
But he would tough it out and solve the crime or whatever. Then he would retire to his sickbed to recover in time for next week’s adventure.
If you haven’t read Pixie Noir, I will try not to spoil it more than to say the hero doesn’t die at the end, but he does get hurt.
Unlike Joe Mannix, Lom, the pixie bounty hunter, doesn’t get all better before the next episode starts. That episode is Trickster Noir.
There’s some cleaning up to do of messes left over from Pixie Noir. First, there’s a nest of ogres who need to get hunted down. Happily, there’s a friendly bigfoot who doesn’t want the attention the ogres are attracting. And then there’s Bella’s friends and family who are pretty good with guns and bomb-making. The ogres don’t stand a chance.
That gives Lom time to heal before getting on with the main business of the novel. If you know anything about American Indian lore, you may have heard of the Raven spirit. Seems he’s got a problem and can’t or won’t go to Siberia to solve it himself.
And the Fairy court has a similar mission in Japan. Lom and Bella figure they can kill two birds with one stone if they combine both missions.
Of course, they need a decent cover story to explain to all the gossips why they’re heading to the other side of the world. And they oblige by providing not one, but two weddings.
Ms. Sanderson may be a bit too anxious to depict the chastity of her protagonists. And a bit too elaborate in the wedding planning. Maybe this is because I’m male and leave wedding planning to the fairer sex. I appreciate the fact that Bella and Lom wait until their union has been solemnized in a manner appropriate to their respective cultures before they consummate their relationship.
One of the things I intimated, but did not state overtly here is that I think sexual congress belongs within the context of monogamous marriage. Stories that show 007 jumping from bed to bed should also show his inability to make a permanent connection with anyone. I believe it is untrue to depict sexual promiscuity seamlessly settling into happily ever after without significant negative consequences.
But that’s just my opinion and I’ve no desire to make you feel bad if you do not share it.
Ms. Sanderson does not preach at this point, but she does belabor the good example of Lom and Bella enough to notice. And when folks notice they get the idea you might be preaching.
There’s been a recent flap wherein Social Justice Warriors have insisted that story be sacrificed on the altar of The Message. They insist that you have just the right number of transgendered third-world bohemian have-nots depicted in a caring and sympathetic fashion. Frankly, this is a demand that writing become preaching.
Preaching is just as annoying when it is anti-Christian as when it is pro-Christian. If you absolutely must put a Message into your writing. Then encode it in the first letters of each sentence where it won’t club the reader over the head with the subtlety of an Eskimo dispatching a baby seal.
Happily, you’ll find no such clubbing in Trickster Noir. It is as much fun as Pixie Noir. A lot of questions about Ms. Sanderson’s world-building are nicely answered. And as many backstory questions are left unanswered. What exactly did Lom do to get on the wrong side of the law? And what unhappy fate befell his first wife? I guess we’ll just have to wait until Ms. Sanderson’s next "Noir" novel.
Five stars.
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