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on Oct. 29, 2010 :
Mr. Styx, an alias for our protagonist, Sherman, finds "things" for his clients. Typically they're magic items, but sometimes he solves missing persons cases. Unfortunately, these are people who would prefer to stay missing. While he won't get his hands bloody, his conscience looks the other way if his clients make a mess of the mark. When we meet Sherman, he's in his favorite diner (not so much for the food as it is for the plethora of exits) being offered a job he's not allowed to refuse by a couple of lineman-sized thugs who are far more sinister than they appear to be.
Despite all of Sherman's flaws, Thorne makes him out to be a likable character. He's aware of his moral shortcomings, but acknowledges they're necessary for survival in the line of work he's in. Thorne spends a good deal of time exploring Sherman's character and reveals how he came to be the man he is. While on the surface, he resembles a Gen X version of the hard-nosed detective of many a pulp fiction story, underneath there's a vulnerability that belies that exterior.
Thorne's writing style makes for an entertaining read. To add to the almost noir-like atmosphere, he pours on the similes and metaphors like syrup over a steaming fresh stack of blueberry pancakes. Mmmmmm. It fits in well with establishing Sherman's character, his clients and the grim city he lives in.
As for the technicals, there are several typos. They were easy enough to find and could easily have been eliminated if a second set of eyes had gone over the manuscript before publishing. However, none of them were bad enough to detract from the story. Small bumps in the road as it were.
I understand that this is the third story in Thorne's "Grim Arcana" series. I'm not sure what the other titles are but you don't need to have read them to enjoy this story, though I suspect you'll want to. With "Fixing Mr. Styx", I feel like we've come in at the end of a story, and I'm left wanting to know how we got here. Only in Resident Evil can you have a sequel to "Apocalypse." Thorne throws us enough bones to want to read more about Sherman's past exploits that led up to this encounter. A novel, or a collection of novellas, highlighting his misadventures in expanded form is what I'd like to see.
All-in-all, "Fixing Mr. Styx" is a highly enjoyable excursion into a dangerous world that exists just outside the corner of our eyes.
(review of free book)
on Oct. 18, 2010 :
No one turns a phrase quite like Geoffrey Thorne. I'm betting he was the kid with the flashlight under his chin telling chilling tales with a twist when he was a kid. Much like the shady characters he creates, his stories invite you to sit-down and make you an offer you can't refuse, or in his case, a book you can't put down. With lines like, "For somebody who guarded his privacy like a pitbull standing over a pound of raw burglar, Sherman managed to get people talking.", you can't help but to keep turning the page. Memorable lines, combined with pockets full of magic, that carry items like scouting paper samurai, who present their findings in an expected, yet unexpected way, give this story a "what's-around-the-next-corner?" anticipation. Thorne's "Fixing Mr. Styx" shows us that practiced flashlight storytelling and draws us into his tale, leaning in to hear, "In this world there was magic in the cracks and under the floorboards; there were dragons in the pipes and darklings in the woods but it was all at the edge of things, in the corner of your eye unless you knew where, exactly where, to look." So Thorne takes us there, with a knowing smile, and like entering a haunted house, we expect to come out the other side exhilarated, shaken and entertained. And indeed, we are. Then we get in line again, knowing the thrill is even better the second time around.
(review of free book)