Electric Review

Culture & Criticism Since 2003

Black Goat Blues Recalls Gaiman & Hammett

BLACK GOAT BLUES. Levi Black. Tor Books. 

Cover courtesy of Tor Books.

I was reading Levi Black’s latest novel and, it being past my bedtime, I dozed off into dreams. And in one of those dreams, Neil Gaiman and Dashiell Hammett showed up, a bit of underdone potato, perhaps. I proceeded to introduce them.

“Mister Gaiman, meet Mister Hammett.

“Now, Neil, I would like you to explain to Dashiell here your vision of a dark and malevolent universe, in which Gods are corrupt and capricious, at best malign to humanity, and at worst, indifferent. And Dashiell, I would like you to describe your writing approach to Neil – the quick, vivid descriptives, the jumping non-stop from one action scene to the next, and the rapid-fire and sometimes snarky interplay amongst your characters, especially your protagonist’s inner voice.”

Just then I was interrupted by an ultraviolet flash, a brief rain of black ash, and a faint smell of burning plastic.

Then Levi Black stepped forth and said, “Never mind, you guys. I know what he’s trying to describe. I can write it, and I’ll call it my The Mythos War Series. I need the royalties more than either of you, anyway.”

Black Goat Blues is the second book of Black’s Mythos Series, and features elements of the two authors referenced above. Black’s universe, with its Gods and level bosses, are dark, vicious and formidable. Meanwhile, the characters are resourceful and witty, as likely to cut down a strutting and sneering God with a jibe as they are with the magic sword or the indestructible robe.

Black Goat Blues reads a bit like a computer game, or perhaps I should say a well-run dungeons and dragons game. The narrative moves at break-neck speed, with no pauses between confrontations. The pages turn, and a Big Bad is defeated, usually in a fairly inventive and amusing way, sometimes making an ally of the just-beaten antagonist in the process. There isn’t much time for coffee breaks in Black’s world, and in fact the one time they do stop for coffee, the Whore Goddess of Babylon shows up and seduces the Doctor Watson character. 

The fast pace and rapid, vivid descriptives in Black Goat Blues keep this an entertaining and engaging ride that’s hard to put down, compelling one to envision the next installment in the series. And If I review the next book, I’ll see if I can get a boost from Messers Lovecraft and Pratchett. Since it’ll be Christmas Eve soon, I know they’ll show up. They always do.

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson

© Bryan Zepp Jamieson. All rights reserved.

Zepp Jamieson was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and spent his formative years living in various parts of Canada, the UK, South Africa and Australia before finally moving to the United States, where he has lived for over 40 years. Aside from writing, his interests include hiking, raising dogs and cats, and making computers jump through hoops. His wife of 25 years edits his copy, and bravely attempts to make him sound coherent. Reach him through The Electric Review.


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This entry was posted on December 13, 2017 by in 2017, December 2017, In the Spotlight, Rat On Fiction & Nonfiction and tagged , , , .
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