- Paperback: 254 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 22, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 148261300X
- ISBN-13: 978-1482613001
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,340,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The City of Smoke and Mirrors: An Armadillo Mystery Paperback – February 22, 2013
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Top customer reviews
As the first book in a series, "City of Smoke and Mirrors" does a fantastic job of building the world that surrounds protagonist Dilbert Pinkerton without making it an origin story. Readers are dropped into the middle of this new universe and Piers allows us all to become immersed in what is a ridiculous yet humorous world, where a five-foot mutant armadillo can wear a fedora and a trench coat and solve crime. Rife with comic book references and sly winks and nods to the pop culture I grew up with, it was clear while reading the story that the author was having fun with what he was doing, which translates into the rest of the story.
Now that Dil's case with the Buzzard has come to a close, I'm looking forward to reading what Piers has in store for the next book.
Dilbert (his friends call him Dil) Pinkerton is our protagonist mutant private dick tasked with recovering a pearl necklace. The task seems simple enough until he has to go to Nevermore Bay; home of the Buzzardman and the (ugh) Buzzardmobile. With me so far? Good. Because there are quite a few nods to the comics and industry itself. The Joker reference was very subtle (and if it wasn't a Joker reference, then I totally over read into it :p). And then there's Don Komodo and his goons chasing after Dil from a previously botched case.
Told in first person from Dil's POV in this hard boiled fiction, we're introduced to a variety of characters. Even the dog. The non mutant one. The characters are all over the top and what you would expect given the genre; all memorable in one form or another. No-one sticks out as a love to hate or a love to love character but it is fun to read about them.
The overall tone, setting, and atmosphere was well done."City of Smoke..." is not without its errors. There were some minor typos and syntax errors as well as a one HUGE consistency flaw towards the end regarding the Buzzardmobile, but that's neither here nor there. With or without the (ugh) Buzzardmobile, it's an enjoyable ride.
Edited to remove a self published comment.
Mr. Piers does a fine job with the characters and setting, and his world has been carefully thought out. I was surprised how well rounded the main character was. I mean, a mutant armadillo as a deep character? Well, he was. This was a fun story and as a first novel, Mr. Piers really sets himself up for a bang-up career.
So, you are wondering, why the 4-star instead of 5? Well, it's mostly thematic and my own personal preferences. For example, Dill seems to be erratically written when it comes to his temperament. I don't know if this is something that is off for everyone or just a product of the "noir" style. I have the same issues with the Dresden series so it's probably just me.
I think there's also a phrase or two that is overused and it tends to jump out. Again, this is probably more me than anything.
So in the end, it's a great read and you'd do yourself a favor by picking it up. If you like noir-style detective novels like Butcher's Dresden Files or Mark Everett Stone's BSI series, this one will be right up your alley. Your dark, dank alley, with a scent of decay that reminds you of that time your refrigerator lost power while you were on vacation.
This book is FUN. And that's a big deal for a book of brawls, bike chases, murder, and inter-species prejudice. The magic of mixing all that together and making it an enjoyable read originates in Dilbert's narration. He's gruff, sloppy, disgruntled, and for better or worse, he has a heart of gold. His observations are often hilarious, and in their turn of phrase and negativity you get a laugh, a description, and Dilbert's jaded opinion in humorous little packages. He's a larger than life character, the type who might be familiar to noir buffs, but at the same time he's an armadillo. That makes a difference. He's the kind of hero you want to follow and hope succeeds, especially as he's getting beaten to a pulp.
An assortment of other characters round out the novel, from Dilbert's short list of allies to the bikers, policemen, and Dick Tracy-style henchmen they have to handle under the watchful and suspicious eyes of the Buzzard, a gadget-wielding vigilante with a sense of justice askew from Dilbert's. They help or hinder the detective in fights, foot chases, and bike chases, tearing up Nevermore's streets and reputation while Dilbert uncovers the city's secrets.
City of Smoke and Mirrors is full of energy, and skillfully balances a wide load of humor with some pretty dark details. It's an effective mystery and character story, the kind I had trouble putting down.