Stalking the Unicorn: A Fable of Tonight
John Justin Mallory Book 1
By Mike Resnick
Published by Audible Studios
Read by Peter Ganim
It has been a long time since I first read this story and was not aware there had been two sequels written since then although I should have. The standard mantra of publishers when a book sells well is “Give me another just like it, but different.”
This is a nice mix of light fantasy with detective noir, which, while not exactly an original idea, was definitely presented with Mister Resnick’s own spin. John Justin Mallory, is a down and currently out detective drinking the New Year in by himself in his office when an elf walks in and offers him a job at any price; he must find a missing unicorn before dawn. Sounds easy? Well, not to me, but it turns out that the unicorn is the very least of what Mallory is about to encounter.
The elf, brings Mallory from his shabby New York office down and then back up into an entirely different New York City where all manners of fantasy creatures exist and the kingpin of the local underworld is a real demon called the Grundy.
For the most part I think it’s a great story although in the latter quarter of the story feels as though the author found it had not gone on as long as planned and needed a bunch of padding. Every time I think we’ve reached a climax, it turns out there’s one more loose thread to be resolved and that leads to another and then another until, finally the book had enough pages and he could stop writing. Is that what happened? Well, probably not, but it felt that way to me.
In spite of that, however, I did enjoy the story. It is a fun journey through a fantasy world as seen through the eyes of a classic hard-boiled detective. I look forward to listening to the other two.
I thought Peter Ganim read this book fairly well. There were some flaws in his reading, but most of my complaints were related to some of the accents he used to differentiate the characters. The elf, for example had a Germanic name, so his lines were delivered with a very heavy and somewhat hard-to-listen-to Germanic accent of a sort one does not normally hear outside of a comedy sketch. Actually, I thought the accent was thicker than the one Arte Johnson used on the old “Laugh-In” show… Verrry interrresting, but hard to listen to. (Am I dating myself there? Well, if so, feel free to look that up on YouTube. Nothing is too out of date for You Tube!)
Mister Ganim had a few other questionable vocal choices, but for the most part I think he was a fairly good reader. Not great, but then how many truly great readers are there? Even the greats don’t perform at their best every time and while I may have had some minor complaints, Peter Ganim read this one as good or better than most I have listened to.
So, an entertaining story that mixes genres in a fun way and ready like your typical Hard-boiled detective novel. Bring on the second book of the series!