Murder In Cormyr Review

If you’ve read many of these reviews or listened to the pod, you know that I dig detective/private investigator stories.
The less straight forward and more off beat the better.
Be it Monk, Psych, Dan Shamble, or Mystery Inc, there is just something about the nontraditional mystery solver that I love.

You’ve also heard my interest in Dungeons And Dragons grow since this show launched nearly 4 and a half years ago, as evidenced by Ep 100 of the main show (listen to that here).
So what happens when you combine D&D and a murder mystery?
Let’s find out!

As always, let it be known far amd wide that this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

In the tradition of most detective novels I’ve stumbled across, this story is told from a first person perspective of somebody who just so happened to witness it all as the helper of the incredibly savvy detective.
This story begins with our former slop boy and quarter halfling narrator, Jasper, recounting the story of how he came to be in the service of a retired war wizard, Benelaius.
Having broken into Benelaius’s cabin on a drunken dare, Jasper agreed to be his servant, at half his current pay, for a year to keep his soon to be employer from reporting his crime to the local law force, the Purple Dragons.
Yes, gang, this book isn’t afraid to go full nerd!

Nearly a year passes, with Benelaius teaching Jasper ways to broaden his future beyond petty burglary.
In the year that has gone by, a ghost has started appearing in the Vast Swamp near town and the citizens are starting to get worried.
They get even more alarmed when bodies start dropping just before the merchant’s guild is scheduled to hold their annual meeting in the normally quiet town of Ghars.

Before I got a copy of this, like with most books I get, I did a ton of research and only found a couple of reviews from around the time of release.
After I finished reading it the other day I searched them out again just to compare.
The only conclusion I can come to is one of the following: either Chet Williamson wronged this reviewer in the worst possible way and the reviewer got his revenge in review form, your ol pal Doom might be simple in the head and is easy to please, or this reviewer read a totally different book cause I had a shit ton of fun with this one.

Williamson infused this with an incredibly pulpy vibe, while still juggling the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy aspects of it all.
Which is fascinating considering my research (which could just be internet horseshit) says that when he wrote this he had less D&D experience than I currently do.
Had I not read that, I would have thought he was a seasoned veteran when it comes to slinging polyhedrals.
He paints as good a picture of the world and its monsters as the DMs on most actual play podcasts I’ve heard.

The mystery of the murderer is interwoven with the ghost and political upheaval storythreads damn well.
All have enough satisfying twists and shocks to keep you more than interested until the end.
The Monk-like “here’s what happened” scene even has a twist that is explained the following day to add an unexpected bit of business to make this story have a freshness all it’s own.

Bottom line: If you always wanted to read a tale of a slightly more sedentary Gandalf or Dumbledore playing gumshoe with Frodo or Harry doing their legwork, look no further.
The biggest thing I can piss and moan about is that the ending seems to suggest more adventures with Beneliaus & Jasper that sadly never happen.
This book was perfectly made for me, and I’m glad I found it.
Hopefully you’ll feel the same and pick it up yourself.

Let us know what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Slimy Underbelly Review

Including this one, I have read 4 of the 5 novels in this series and 3 of the numerous short stories.
So I feel that I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is the most batshit crazy story of the franchise thus far, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Just to be safe, consider this your official ***SPOILER WARNING***

As I said in my Naughty & Nice review (read it here), I think Shamble stories work best when multiple storylines are being juggled and, holy hell, does this have a bunch of stories being kept in the air.
This go round, Chambeaux’s cases involve an Ogre whose voice is stolen, a gang of Garden Gnomes getting greedy, an aspiring Supervillain/Junior Mad Scientist (with many patents pending) who gets booted from his sewer based lab space, a Weather Wizard in the middle of a campaign for President of his order, and an Aussie Accented half Elder God making a big splash under the Unnatural Quarter.
Another of my favorite threads is Sheyenne trying to culture Dan up a bit.
McGoo has a story that I have a feeling may pay off in the recently released 5th novel, Tastes Like Chicken, about his Ex-wife and a potential kid.
Lots of plates spinning and I loved every minute of it.

My 1 and only complaint about this book is less of a gripe specific to this story and more a bit of whining about the chronology of the entire series.
Maybe this would be better kept to my upcoming review of Working Stiff, but I really wish Kevin J. Anderson would have a list somewhere that shows specifically where these stories take place.
Because, at one point, Dan references 3 of the 7 Short Stories from Working Stiff, one of which is actually published in the back of my copy…but I didn’t read it before because I wasn’t sure where it fell.
It’s not super important and doesn’t hurt this reading experience a single bit, but it would be nice to know what to read and in which order.
So, if you read this book, and you care about continuity, be sure to read Stakeout At The Vampire Circus, Road Kill, and Naughty & Nice before this.

As I said above, this story is crazy!
The stakes have never been higher in this series, the ending specifically is a weird H.P. Lovecraft plot, mixed with an over the top Doctor Doom world domination story, sprinkled with Shrek, and a dash of Monk.
It’s ballsy as hell!
The way that EVERY SINGLE STORY converges in the sewer for a cultish blood sacrifice is masterful.
I feel I repeat myself a lot when I talk about this series, but KJA’s style is so easy to read.
Most authors, even ones I love, would have made this so fucking convoluted and hard to keep up with that you would almost feel it wasn’t worth it and give up.
But it’s written with just the right about of detail and humor to make it all work perfectly.
Every major character seems to have their moment to shine as well.

More so than the other books in the series, I feel like this one leaves the world in a different place than it started.
Not in a major way, but there are certain side characters that have been around since book 1 that have their worlds ended…but thanks to The Big Uneasy, death isn’t the end anymore.
Again, continuity is important, and I dig that.
Dan also seems to have figured out for sure just what his purpose in the afterlife is.

The more I read of this series the more I desperately want it to be turned into an animated series, man.
I say animated because the make-up budget alone would probably kill the series.
Just the 4 books and 3 Short Stories I’ve read would make for a great 4 Seasons of 10-15 Episodes.
It’s just so damn good, I need to see more from this universe.

That’s that, gang.
I’m struggling to come up with a ranking for all of the stories in this series.
It’s a lot like the MCU in that I really only know which is my least favorite and the rest are battling it out for 1st.
I truly love this series for it’s fun quirkiness.
Please check out this story or any of the others, it’s so worth it.