Mookie Pearl is a thug. When the Organization is in need of some muscle, Mookie has it in spades. When the Boss needs some kneecaps busted, Mookie’s happy to oblige. And when the goblins in the Underworld get restless, then it’s Mookie that the Organization sends in to settle them back down again. A great slab of a man with a bowling ball head and ham-hocks for hands, Mookie is a bruiser in both the criminal and supernatural underworlds and a force to be reckoned with. But when forces conspire to rock the natural order of things in the Organization–forces that may be led by his estranged daughter, Nora–Mookie is forced to go both underground and Underground to defeat them and stay alive.
Wendig has created a unique character and mythology for this unusual urban fantasy. Instead of the usual crop of werewolves, witches, and vampires, we have goblins (or “gobbos”) and underground civilizations and the walking dead (but not zombies–just, the dead). Mookie is a different kind of hero. He’s not a loveable lug–he’s more complicated than that. But he’s identifiable and likeable and, most importantly, someone who you want to go on this journey with.
And what a journey it is. As usual with Wendig, the plot is a roller-coaster ride of wild characters and pulp violence peppered with profane dialogue. There are roller derby street gangs, creepy snake-people assassins, assault four-wheelers, eldritch cults, and charcuterie. Satisfying in every way.
And yet, I still came away unsatisfied. Not quite sated. I have no objective complaints about the plot, the writing, the overall grim tone of the novel, nothing. But still–something lacked. Something didn’t quite click with me. Not like Blackbirds or Double Dead did.
Don’t mistake me. I still want to see what’s in store for Mookie. This is a book I can still wholeheartedly recommend to others. But it didn’t “wow” me like his previous work has.
Still, if you’re looking for something different in urban fantasy, definitely give The Blue Blazes a read. Wendig’s unique voice and Mookie are well worth your time.