The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mookie Pearl is, well, I guess he’s sort of an enforcer. He works for the Organization, a mob group in New York that controls the mining and distribution of Blue, a drug that not only gives the user a high that includes increased strength and endurance, but also allows him to see the true nature of the denizens of the Great Below that live in the city. Because New York is built over the entrance to hell, and now, some of its worst nightmares are planning on returning to the upper world and reducing it to their own personal playground and slaughterhouse. Mookie and his estranged daughter, Nora, plus a handful of other misfits, both living and not-so-living, are all that stand between them and us.
As usual with Chuck Wendig’s stories, this one is gritty and fast-paced. The story rolls forward kind of like Mookie barreling his way through the tunnels of the Great Below. The setting is a nicely done, with the feel of a noir film. It’s dark, and dirty, and sometimes very, very unpleasant. And it fits the story perfectly.
The main characters are interesting and very real. Both Mookie and his daughter have real, deep flaws, another hallmark of Wendig’s tales. He paints imperfect characters expertly, and makes them come alive. Mookie isn’t a nice guy, and about the only thing he really cares about is his daughter, even if she hates him. His solution to just about everything is to beat it up or whack it with his weapon of choice, a meat cleaver. He’s creepy and horrifying, much like the world he lives in. Nora is convinced at the start of the story that she hates her father, and is planning on undermining the Organization, taking Mookie down with it. She’s tough as nails, and, in the end, a lot like her father.
I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Wendig, and The Blue Blazes is no exception. If you enjoy dark, gritty urban fantasy, with almost non-stop action, and some really weird twists, pick this one up.