Summary: Hard-Boiled Magic
Comment: This is a world where ten years previously a portal opened in Cleveland, Ohio. Now magic works in the city and creatures of myth are around. Kline Maxwell is a political reporter in a city where television does not work well. When a dragon falls dead from the sky Kline is assigned to the story even though it is not a political story. Kline begins and soon finds himself involved in far more than he bargained for.
Kline finds himself caught up in City and Federal investigations as he digs deeper into the story. Did the dragon die by accident or was murder involved? Kline uses his investigative skills and contacts to get to the heart of the matter and keep alive.
Twists and turns abound in this hard-boiled detective story. S. Andrew Swann has done an excellent job of combining magic and classic detective styles. The author never uses magic as a cheap out. Instead, the story holds together like the best of thrillers and mysteries. But there are enough spells, elves, dragons and whatnot to please any fantasy fan. Check it out.
Summary: An urban fantasy-mystery I really enjoyed.
Comment: Kline Maxwell is a reporter on the Cleveland press, in a Cleveland that is home to the Portal, magic and all the strange inhabitants from the other side who have immigrated to Earth since it opened.
When a Dragon suddenly drops out of the sky Kline's investigation - despite his dislike of "fuzzy gnome" stories - leads him to believe he is dealing with a murder and a layer of politics he never uncovered when solely concentrating on the human element of Town Hall.
This is a decent mystery story, clearly written with likeable characters that makes me want to read book 2 in this series, THE DWARVES OF WHISKEY ISLAND.
Summary: Not Bad, but Certainly Not Great
Comment: So, the plot of this book is a pretty standard mystery story: Reporter covers accidental death and falls into massive political conspiracies. The characterization was fairly good, though some characters seemed to be little more that place-holders (the Irish cop, the beautiful elven woman). But my major issue with the book was in the details. The author clearly didn't actually do ANY research into firearms, computers or electronics, all of which play a major role in the novel and all of which are badly mis-used. In almost every important scene, the purported details of these three is so far from the reality that it broke my suspension of disbelief.
Summary: A new genre -- fantasy/mystery noir
Comment: S. Andrew Swann brings a fresh voice to the fantasy genre with this novel and his no-nonsense protagonist, reporter Kline Maxwell. The Dashiel Hammett-like noir setting pervades throught the story and makes for a very enjoyable read. There are lots of lines like "(s)he had one of those personalities that tore into a room like a rototiller into a vat of Jell-O." They may be a bit hokey, but fun to read none-the-less.
One quibble is that the author misuses "irony" or "ironic" no less than a dozen times. This seems to be a plague on contemporary authors that really needs to be squashed.
Summary: Decent urban fantasy/mystery story
Comment: This story was a very enjoyable read, the premise of Cleveland being blanketed by a magical portal and having to cope with the affects of this was an interesting method of introducing magic in to the urban setting of Cleveland. A reporter sent to look into the death of a dragon quickly discovers there are dark plots at work behind the dragon's death--and quickly winds up in over his head. There are some unexpected twists and turns, startling betrayals and underhanded motives at play. If you enjoyed Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books, this story will probably appeal. Melisa Michaels' paranormal mysteries dealing with a female detective duo and elven invegstigations are fairly similar in style. There is more focus on the unfolding events and the mystery itself than on the more emotional or romantic elements that some other urban fantasies contain. Those looking for a strongly magical plot may be disappointed. The author's use of fantasy is fairly matter-of-fact and more like his SF roots. I did feel there were a few plot threads left hanging--but it was all in all a good read. It has the earmarks of a possible series, and I wouldn't be surprised to see our reporter hero back again.