Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: High Midnight Review

Originally published in the Straight Outta Tombstone supernatural western short story collection from Baen Books, The Chambeaux & Deyer Investigations crew are back and heading for a shootout in the Unnatural Quarter at High Midnight.
Does this story deserve to hang its hat next to the rest of the Shamble canon?
Let’s find out!

Consider this your official ***SPOILER ALERT***, gang.

Knowing how much I love this series, this character, and this world, it would take a lot for me to say it doesn’t deserve its place in the overall tapestry.
At this point, Shamble is like Scooby for me, KJA would have to really go off the rails and go in a ridiculous Get A Clue-esque direction to lose my interest.

As the story goes Robin (Deyer, Dan’s business partner) has helped work out the contracts to bring an old west show to the UQ, the main attraction being the ghost of a gunslinger named Deadeye One-Eye.
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that one of the things that makes this series so much fun is figuring out the rules and just how this world works and, once again, he adds another spoke or two to the wheel.
In Book 2, Unnatural Acts, we find out that there are ways to destroy ghosts.
In this story we find out a whole new way that they can get hurt and die…again!

After a display of his gunslinging abilities, Deadeye One-Eye gives Dan a vague threat about his Great-Great-Umpty-Ump Grandpappy, Dirk Chambeaux.
Says he’ll see Dan at High Midnight and pimps away…only to have gunfire ring out!
The promoter of the event, Mild Bill (the alleged ghost of Wild Bill), gets caught in the crossfire and is fatally shot with ghost bullets, which I know sounds hokey as shit but trust me, it works.
As he dies and fades away, he clues Dan & Co in on ol Dirk in a pretty cool way.
There is another cool world rule for ghosts that I don’t want to spoil, but it was so unexpected and I loved it.

KJA’s style is still colorful, but not overly detailed which makes it easy to devour.
You can tell he loves these characters, the warmth between the mains makes that obvious.
My way to sell this series for quite a while now has been to say that it’s like The Rockford Files meets the Universal Monsters, but the more accurate description would be The Rockford Files meets The Munsters with a pinch of The Addams Family.
It also helps scratch a long lasting itch I’ve had for some solid supernatural Western action.
It’s full of so much wacky fun, it’s punny, it’s clever, and there’s just not enough Dan Shamble in the world to satisfy my insatiable hunger.

I’m damn skippy this will be in the new Dan Shamble short story collection KJA has said is coming this fall.
If this is any indication of the quality of the other DSZPI shorts he’s written lately, we are in for some great shit when it drops.

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Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Tastes Like Chicken Review

The Unnatural Quarter was changing, that was certain.
But the more it changed, the more it stayed the same.
I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

Those are the last 3 sentences of this book, and they ring true for this universe in a big bad way.

Let’s get this out of the way at the top, this is gonna be a suckfest.
I’m not quite sure if I mean in the Vampire sense or…anywhooo…uh, where was I?
Oh yeah!
My love for this series, these characters, and this world has been made crystal clear over the last 13 months and 4 days (yes, I keep track and looked) that it has taken me to read all 6 books and the comic.
I have not hated a single installment in the tales of Dan, Robin, Sheyenne, and McGoo that I’ve gotten my hands on.
I’ll even go a step further and say that at this point I’m damn skippy this is my favorite book series I have read.
It is that damn GOOD!

This is your official ***SPOILER WARNING*** as we dive in deep on this newest chapter in the adventures of Dan and Co.

The action starts early as Dan and McGoo are chasing down a murderous demon from the 5th pit of hell, and though that sounds like a world ending plot, this book reigns it in after the cataclysmic story that was Slimy Underbelly.
This is a more personal outing, a true buddy cop story, of 2 friends forced into fatherhood.

Sheyenne swoops in with a demon busting spell from a flyer and all seems well in the UQ…except for those damn feral chickens and Vamps starting to go apeshit after drinking overpriced, high sugar, extra foam, triple shot, hoity toity blood lattes and the like.
Not long after busting the demon, the plot thread I was hoping in my Slimy Underbelly review would be picked up in this book is reintroduced.
McGoo’s ex-wife, Rhonda, calls and tells him to get to the bus stop just as Spooky calls and tells Dan the same woman called the Chambeaux & Deyer offices with a similar message.

And this is when we start unburying the heart of this particular book.
Dan throughout the series has shown how much he loves and cares for Robin and Spooky, but this little Vampire girl, Alvina, that is forced on him and McGoo by Rhonda (who Dan had a short affair with after the split), is different.
The love we see Dan, McGoo, Spooky, and Robin shower this poor little girl with is something new for the series.
It adds a whole new dimension that I never would have thought to ask for, but I’m glad we got.
And she isn’t the pain in the ass little brat that a once great TV show brings in to try and rebound after the ratings have dipped a bit too low.
She comes off cutesy, but confident.
Smart, but not in a way that suddenly diminishes everybody else to drooling idiots that can’t do anything without her.
And it’s not out of the blue, as I said, the groundwork was laid last book for this to happen.

Alvina is a social media/blog/brand obsessed girl sharing her experiences as a young Vampire stuck in puberty who may be Dan or McGoo’s daughter.
They aren’t sure whose kid she biologically is and, since she was turned DNA tests are now unreliable, they probably never will.
This is another one of the things I love about this series, learning and trying to figure out the rules of it.
I wonder how well KJA has thought this series and its rules out?
To use a TV term, if he has a series bible for it?
Either way, it is damn impressive.

When a nefarious and bloody plot against Unnaturals puts Alvina in a coma, shit gets real for Dan and co.
From that point on, Robin and Spooky sort of take a back seat to these 2 Dads trying to save their girl.
It works so well.

Sadly, the one thing all of KJA’s books seem to have in common is that they go by far too quickly.
Like Hair Raising (book 3 in the DSZPI Series, for those keeping track) I finished this in 4 days.
In my experience, he writes short, easy to read, potato chip like chapters that make you think “well, maybe just one more” until you’re sitting there with an empty bag (or a finished book) hating yourself for being a hog and not making the goodness last.

Trust me, gang, there is far more to this book that I haven’t even touched on yet, but I feel like I’ve rambled and slobbered enough, and I don’t want to spoil it all for you.
I can’t say for certain if this is my favorite book in the series or not, but it is battling hard and holding its own in the fight.
I implore you all to give this series a chance, buy one or more of the books, because money talks and I want many many more full length stories with these characters.
Until next time, thanks for reading.