Stalking the Dragon: A Fable of Tonight
John Justin Mallory Book 3
By Mike Resnick
Published by Audible Studios
Read by Peter Ganim
I thought I had only read the first of this series, but it turns out this story was amazingly familiar to me, so I must have read it at once point or other. On the other hand, I did not recall the ending, so that’s okay. Besides, it is not like I only listen to the recordings of books I have not written. As readers of this blog might have figured out for themselves, I listen to just about anything regardless of whether I have read the original, of age of the book, of quality, etc.
Anyway, John Justin Mallory, the realistic private eye – the sort who does not pummel his way through hundreds of gun-toting adversaries while seducing a dozen curvaceous women – is back for another case that must be solved in a single night (although I think this time, he has until the following afternoon) when the Grundy (the powerful demon who controls all of the fantasy Manhattan this story takes place in) hires him to get a toy dragon to the prestigious East Minster Dragon Show.
Okay, I skipped ahead of the details – first he is hired by the owner of said dragon to find her, but it gets complicated… of course. Along the way we learn a lot about show dragons. For instance, each one has its own favorite foods and some are amazingly picky about what they will eat. This one, Fluffy, will only eat elephant-shaped chocolate marshmallow cookies. Offer a Rhino-shaped one and no dice.
The story, like its predecessors, involves Mallory, the office cat (a catgirl named, Felina), his partner and a bunch of others accumulated along the way as they track down the dragon and get it to the show on time so that the Grundy’s entry can win the competition fair and square because he may be the epitome of evil, but he is also a sportsman. Go figure.
The story is well-crafted and also a nice piece of satire that entertains from beginning to end even if the ending was predictable… well, predictable if you have read the others in the series.
Peter Ganim’s reading of this series continues to be in the “Classic Hard-boiled Detective” manner which works here even though Mallory is not the cliché fictional detective (that most mystery writers try to avoid using if I am going to be honest). As I said in my review of Stalking the Unicorn, comedy needs to be treated seriously and the narrator of a comic novel needs to remember he is the straight man. Ganim does this perfectly and never steps on the jokes as Mallory treads his way through the fantastic version of Manhattan.
So, I enjoyed this story a lot. I thought it was better than the second book and possible on a par with the first. I did grow a bit tired of the goblin street venders. That was a joke that got old quickly in the first book and has not aged all that well along the way. However, Mister Resnick had made them such a staple of life in his version of NYC that they had to remain ubiquitous. One does have to wonder where he walks in New York, however. I’ve been there often enough and never found the street venders anywhere near so aggressive…