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Stalking the Unicorn: A John Justin Mallory Mystery Paperback – August 1, 2008

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This enchanting blend of fantasy and hard-boiled detection, back in print after two decades, heralds a new series from prolific multiple-award–winner Resnick, best-known for his Birthright Universe series. On a gloomy New Year's Eve, recently bereft of wife and partner, down-and-out New York City PI John Justin Mallory is hired by Mürgenstürm, a little green elf who wants Mallory to track down a stolen unicorn. After gradually accepting that his client is not an alcohol-fueled hallucination, Mallory deftly takes on a shadow city of demons, leprechauns and gnomes even as he learns that his own future hinges on the unicorn's recovery. The crisp dialogue and imaginative setting will have many fantasy readers wanting to revisit Manhattan's magical side. (Aug.) ""
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved."

From Booklist

Originally published in 1987, this novel introduced John Justin Mallory, the world-weary New York City private investigator who wound up working cases in the “hidden” New York, the one that exists alongside the familiar NYC but behind the scenes. The story begins on New Year’s Eve. Mallory’s wife has run off with his partner; he’s broke and facing the prospect of being evicted. Then a client walks through his door, a most unexpected client: an elf, Murgensturm, who claims that someone has kidnapped a unicorn he was looking after, and if the unicorn isn’t found by daybreak, the Elves’ Guild will kill him. Naturally, Mallory thinks he’s hallucinating—he’s been drowning his sorrows in place of celebrating the new year—but, when the elf reveals the hidden Manhattan and its strange creatures (cat people, leprechauns, talking horses, and plenty more), Mallory jumps into the case with both feet. Unfortunately, he is new to alternate reality and doesn’t fully appreciate the dangers in it—dangers like the Grundy, a powerful demon who’s responsible for most of the evil in this New York and, it seems, in the “real” NY, too. Genre-bending is commonplace today, but back in the mid–1980s, it was out of the ordinary to impose a traditional fantasy story on the very real, very gritty landscape of the contemporary private-eye novel. A harbinger of what was to come, the book immediately caught on with readers, and it’s easy to see why. It’s clever, funny, and exciting, with a likable hero, plenty of offbeat supporting characters, and that beguiling blend of fantasy and mystery. --David Pitt

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591026482
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591026488
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #646,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Chris on April 29, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If dark comedy, irony, or fantasy/sci-fi are your bag, it would be well worth it for you to try REALLY hard to find this book, as you will not be disappointed. This book starts off with John Mallory, a down on his luck private investigator, spending New Year's Eve alone in his dreary Manhattan office. His wife has run off with his ex-partner, the mafia has put a price on his head, and just when it seemed things couldn't get any cheerier, a little green elf shows up in his office who, to Mallory's surprise, is not an alcohol-based hallucination. It seems that the elf has a job for Mallory... and by dawn the next day, the two will have journeyed to an alternate world which is identical to, and at the same time nothing like, the Manhattan that Mallory has come to know. Resnick's style is dark and ironic, while still maintaining a deeper level of humor than found in most books of this genre. It may be difficult to find this book now, but if what you just read has enticed you, it'll be well worth it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shala Kerrigan TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've got a weakness for hard boiled detectives in a magic world and this is one of my favorite books of that type.
John Justin Mallory is just plain human without an idea this whole other fairy world exists parallel with ours until he gets hired to track down a unicorn.
There is a big awfully bad guy, and a lot of whimsy and fun with a mystery to be solved.
I read a lot, and so some books I judge by how well I remember them, this one, I read when it first came out, as well as a short story set in the same world in an anthology. I always hoped for sequels and now there are some finally.
If you like Harry Dresden, give Mallory a try. It's a fun, light read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 3, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This remains the only book I have ever read by Resnick, though I have read a few of his short stories, which have much the same flavor. The hilarity starts in the first chapter and keeps right on going. The hero is transported to a Manhatten terrorized by a demon, because the demon has stolen a unicorn... but I won't give too much away. All I will say is- go out of your way to look for this book. The humor, the completely unexpected ending, and the oddly sympathetic bad guys (once you figure out who the bad guys are) make it hard to pass up.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Vanessa E. Lee on May 16, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm going to be quite blunt here. This book was cheesy. Of course, it was supposed to be cheesy, at least in parts, as it was a combination fantasy novel and spoof on old Private-Eye novels. I think that it did remarkably well in the spoof factor, but the fantasy factor fell a little short.

As a Private-Eye spoof, it got just about everything right, all the way down to the twist at the end about the crime and who done it. It was so easy to see Mallory walking around in a trench coat and hat like the old Dicks of the 1920s.

As a fantasy novel, it did all right, but I think that at times Resnick was trying too hard. There were a lot of things that were squeezed in for no apparent reason other than to make the world seem more "fantasy-like," but I think that it would have been better had the differences between the two New Yorks been more subtle for the most part. Then the major differences would have been bigger surprises and would have been more effective.

Probably the best part of this book was the characters. I wouldn't say that any of them were spectacularly well-developed, but they were definitely interesting. I liked how Resnick included little quirks for each of them. They were all memorable, even the ones that I knew next to nothing about, which unfortunately were most of them. Really, I didn't even know that much about Mallory by the end of the book.

All in all, I found this book to be enjoyable, but nothing spectacular.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bill Allen on October 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
When I started reviewing books I told myself I wouldn't review those I didn't like. Why? Because 1) I use my real name and 2) I am an author myself and don't think it's good karma or very professional to put down another author's work. Having said this, I'm about to make an exception. Why? Because there are not many reviews for this book and no bad reviews, and buyers should know what they're getting.

Resnick is a great award-winning author. He's been writing forever and has hundreds of books to his name, and anyone starting out reading Stalking the Unicorn can see why. After the first chapter I was excited and anxious for more. But once Resnick took us out of the real world and into his fantasy world, things started to go astray.

I liked some of the humor sprinkled throughout the story, but much of it seemed forced, as if Resnick were trying to be funny instead of being funny. But the bigger problem was his "trying" to create a world that was absurd. His world was absurd, all right, but not in a good way. It felt to me--and to my wife, who quit reading about halfway through--as if Resnick were searching his imagination, looking for the most absurd elements he could find, whether or not they had any point being in the story.

As I said before, Mike Resnick must be a good author. I am guessing he has hundreds of books that are a joy to read. If so, I recommend you try one of those. This cannot possibly be his best work.
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