May 25, 2020

Stalking the Dragon

Stalking the Dragon is the third in Mike Resnick’s Fables of Tonight series. These books are so much fun, the reader just whips right through them. This one is no different.

Part of the setting for each of these books is a holiday. The holiday marking this story’s action is Valentine’s Day. It starts with the hero, John Justin Mallory, having an animated debate with his mirror Periwinkle as he’s preparing to take out his friend/partner, Winnifred Carruthers the former Great White Hunter, for dinner. Felina, the office cat thing, is present adding her two cents as well when in bursts Buffalo Bill Brody to hire our detective team.

The Eastminster pet show is the following day and his toy dragon, Fluffy, the favorite to win Best of Show, is missing.

So much for the evening out.

John Justin and Winnifred deduce rather quickly that the local ‘big bad’, the Grundy, must be responsible. A visit with the Grundy, however, ends with him hiring the team and with a larger retainer, because although his chimera Carmelita is slated a close second to Fluffy, he wants to win Best of Show the honorable way.  Go figure.  The Grundy being who he is has figured out himself what’s what, but he wants not to be implicated in any way in any part of the process.

So, after picking up a few more colorful assistants, the game is afoot for JJ Mallory et al.  Added to the hunt are Belle, a lusty cell phone enamored of our hero; Gently Gently Dawkins, a stooge of Mallory’s bookie; and Dead End Dugan, a zombie and also a stooge.

In this Manhattan, which is very much NOT the Manhattan we know, everything is a little different. Not only the natives, but the neighborhoods. Mallory et al journey to Greenwitch Village, around the corner from Greenwich Village, and home to covens and witches; to the Bureau of Missing creatures (we’ve been here in another story line); a wax museum where not-so-helpful figures of Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre come to life; and Frump Tower where colorful spinsters and widows live.

After many dead ends, Fluffy is located, and the story closes out with the action at Eastminster. I’ll leave off here, but it’s fun.

A reader can tell that Resnick has so much fun with these stories. There’s a healthy helping of double entendre, puns, misunderstanding and other literary devices that contributes to the story’s smile factor.  The sidekicks are fodder for some very funny sarcasm, and the other Manhattan just offers more fuel to the fire.  Resnick also works in his own life experience. Winnifred is a reflection of a passion for Africa, and Resnick and his wife Carol bred and showed champion collies for a period of time as well, as reflected by the tongue-in-cheek details of the Eastminster show.  In sum, if you’re looking for a quick, fun read, settle in with Stalking the Dragon or any Fable of Tonight.