Paul Crilley – Poison City

Gideon Tau fights demons. But he is no good Guy.

He has a wand. But don’t you dare call him Harry Potter.

He has a talking dog for a spirit guide. But he’s a mean drunk and he sure as hell ain’t nobody’s best friend.

Paul Crilley’s Poison City was a fast read for me, although I am not a huge fan of the urban-fantasy detective genre. I have read some that I liked such as Paul Cornell’s London Falling, or the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovich, but I don’t actively seek them out. So it is always a surprise when I stumble upon books like this, that for me are out of my preferred reading zone, that I like. This book was part of the goodie bag at last summer’s Nine Worlds and I read the thing in the first day and a half of the con. 

Paul Crilley sets this story up in a, for me at least, unusual setting; South Africa. The most appealing feature was this vibrant place on a foreign continent that differs refreshingly from the norm of urban fantasy set in the western nations. The book is written from the viewpoint of Gideon Tau, a detective with Delphic Division, a secret task force of magic wielding detectives that have to police the hidden magical world. He is a tormented soul, having lost his daughter to an unknown magic wielding criminal. His world exists of work, talking with his alcoholic dog-familiar and finding out who this guy is. That is not to say the book is depressing, the black humour and interactions with his boss, partner and familiar are funny and brighten up the book considerably. In his quest he stumbles upon a world threatening crisis that could alter earth forever.

His world is complex and filled with every magical creature and pantheon known to man. And I do mean everything and everyone. The author seems very knowledgeable about the lot of them, I read about some that I have not even heard of in my thirty years of reading history, fantasy and role playing games. This makes for a crowded and packed novel, but the writing is good enough that I was able to read through it in one go. I wish the dog would get more screen time, because he is hilarious and the bright star in this book, but other than that this was a very good refreshing read for me.

Wiebe van der Salm