The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #21

Time for the 21st Nerdy Blitzy Questiony, are ya ready!?

Given the fact that the holidays are upon us, we are going holiday themed for the rest of the year!
So with that in mind, we wanna know: What was the best Christmas present you got as a kid?

Leave your answer down in the comments or on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks to @SteBoost for our QotW logo

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Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Services Rendered Review

Back to the offices of Chambeaux & Deyer we go for more fun & spooky cases in this collection of 9 new stories.
The whole gang is along for the ride too!
Dan Chambeaux: Detective extraordinaire & Zombie.
Robin Deyer: Precedent-setting lawyer for all unnaturals & all around sweetheart.
Sheyenne “Spooky”: Receptionist & Dan’s ghost girlfriend.
Officer Toby “McGoo” McGoohan: Beat Cop & Dan’s BFF, emphasis on the 2nd F.
Let’s see what kind of trouble is about to go down in the UQ, shall we?

For the 20th time, this your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Let’s get this out of the way right here at the top, just so we’re all clear.
This a Dan Shamble book so we really don’t need to pretend that I may not like it.
There is a 95% chance that I was going to love it and I damn well did.
With that all out in the open I have to say the worst part of this book is that it ended so quickly, and it’s getting sadder and sadder when the adventures in the Unnatural Quarter come to an end.
I just can’t get enough of this oddball family, their interactions, and this entire universe.
Flat out, I fuckin’ love this world and these characters.
It’s creeping dangerously close to Scooby & Star Wars levels of love.

Before we get too deep, go read my review of High Midnight, the 4th story in this collection.
I go a bit more in-depth on that than I may on some of the others.
Anywho, let’s get started on the other stories in here.

There are 2 entries in this collection that I was 100% fascinated by, 1st and foremost would be Paperwork.
This is the shortest of the 9, at about 8 pages long, and it’s basically a short way to get you introduced to this universe & this collection.
An Unnatural divorce sees the spurned husband, a poltergeist, tearing up the office and slinging case files all over the place.
The main cast comes together to reminiscence about the cases as they straighten up.
It feels like pure sitcom clip show set up fun, only without recycling old content.

I hesitate to call the following an issue, because I don’t really feel it’s a complaint as much as it is a hope/suggestion.
But having gotten used to how @TheKJA has done the intros to each story with his Selected Stories series, I would’ve loved to see this one story be multi-part intros to each of the following stories to give us a little bit more fun and help us learn more about these characters.
It really would have brought home the sitcom feel.
It works as is though, and we do learn about these characters and their personalities through the other 8 stories.

The other story that I was fascinated by would be Wishful Thinking.
As KJA said when I interviewed him in Series 5, Ep 2 of TNB Book Club, keen observers will realize that this is the Shamble half of the Kolchak crossover comic that he wrote (hear both Fitz and I review the comic in Episode 43).
The second he told me that I started wondering “now how the hell is that gonna work?”, and to answer that question…pretty damn well!
Obviously while reading this, I could see the changes clear as day, but even more interesting than that is seeing the switch from a visual story to pure prose.
I love comics, but the theater of the mind that simple words on a page can prompt can not be beat.
That alone makes this the better version of this story for me.
Not to mention the singular focus on Dan and this world gives it a less disjointed feel.

I only want to mention 2 other stories in this review, and part of me wanted to rip out 1 of them and make it a special review of its own as it’s seasonally appropriate.
Cold Dead Turkey gives us a story that must be an anthropologist’s wet dream!
Set at Christmas (you know, to take advantage of the extra magic), an Aztec Mummy and an Egyptian Mummy are at odds over a sacrifical turkey being specifically raised to fulfill a centuries long wish.
This one perfectly encapsulates why I love this series.
It is unabashedly and unapologetically ridiculous.
This is what I’m talking about when I say that this series feels like a mix of The Munsters & The Rockford Files.
It’s the perfect balance of humor, monsters, & detective footwork.
It’s up there with Role Model, Hair Raising, & Death Warmed Over as one of my favorite stories in the franchise.

Another one up there would be Game Night.
There’s really no mystery here at all, this is one of those stories that helps us learn a bit more about who these characters are.
This is pure horror, a new spin on this world.
After a rough day in the office for both Dan & Robin, Spooky decides they all need a break, invites McGoo over, and organizes a family game night.
McGoo, hot off of a case of his own, and due to some confusion, rushes over before heading back to UQPD Headquarters to catalogue a vial of evidence.
Contained in the vial is a wish substance a genie tried bribing him with.
They start playing a Zombie Outbreak board game and due to a mishap and some poor wording, the entire crew gets transported into the world of the game.
Seeing the entire gang thrown into a dire situation and how they handle it throws this up there with the stories I mentioned above!

Normally, in a collection this short, I would break down every story and give you reasons why I love each, but I think I’d rather leave some of them for you to discover.
Kevin J. Anderson’s love for this series is clear, the sly world building skills are razor sharp.
A few characters from previous books and stories come back for small cameos that go a long way.
And on a more personal note, as a fan of KJA, I absolutely loved the throwaway mention of the librarian who looks like she “suffers from chronic hemorrhoids”.
If you don’t get that reference, watch this and join the cool kids club.

I want you all to check this out, half because I’m greedy and great sales means I’ll get more.
And half because I genuinely think if you like me, my YouTube channel, Fitz, the Pod, and our collective sense of humor, you will love this series.
It’s so damn good and deserves your attention gang.

Share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Naughty & Nice Review

You’ve heard me talk about this series many many times on the pod recently, so ya know damn well going in that I probably loved this story.
Ahhh, but there is always a chance this could be the story to break the streak!

I’m reading this in the print version of the “Working Stiff” short story collection, which you can get a free digital copy of by signing up for Kevin J. Anderson‘s reading group at WordFire.com.

Enough suspense?
The streak continues.
I’ve mentioned on the pod that the story “Road Kill” (also featured in “Working Stiff“, which I’ll discuss in a future review) was a bit disappointing only because it felt too damn short, and I feared going into this that I may have a similar issue.
Not the case whatsoever.
And you can’t call the streak broken because you wanted more, can you?

I think the problem may be that Road Kill had just 1 story thread/case that Dan & Co were trying to work through.
Naughty & Nice has what all 3 novels that I’ve read so far have had, multiple storylines that culminate in the finale.
Reading this and comparing it to Road Kill has made me think plate spinning may be one of the key elements to this franchise.

The 2 storylines here are Santa’s Naughty & Nice list has been stolen and kids all around the Unnatural Quarter have begun to go missing.
We start off with Santa, a confirmed Unnatural (supernatural being brought to life by somebody playing with the Necronomicon), coming to the offices of Chambeaux & Deyer for Dan’s help finding the list.
Dan and Spooky (his ghost girlfriend) head out to brain storm where to begin the hunt for the list when they come across a new character on the scene trying to horn in on Santa’s action, Elfis.
Elfis is one of the perfect examples of why I love this series so much, gang.
It’s so pun and pop culture filled.
This is basically what I imagine an Ep of Family Guy would be like if it was written by Andy Mcelfresh, and this is a compliment!

I won’t spoil anything further, as I’m sure you know the ultimate conclusion of a mystery story, but the ending, set on Christmas day, is almost as sweet as Book 2, Unnatural Acts, but without the creepy sex doll (I say creepy, but it’s actually kinda hilarious, go read it).

The balance of characters is skillful.
Dan, Robin (Deyer, Dan’s business partner), Spooky, and McGoo (Toby McGoohan, Dan’s Best Human Friend, a beat cop in the Quarter) all get time in the spotlight and feel useful.
And the jokes all land, or don’t (McGoo’s trademark), as needed.
I’ve told you many times on the pod that I love KJA’s style, and this is a perfect example why.
So yeah, the streak is intact.

There you have it.
Well worth your time, and seasonally appropriate.
Find it where ever you can and enjoy a few monsters with your milk & cookies.
Enjoy your holiday, gang!