June 6, 2020

Review: The Dog in the Manger by Mike Resnick.

On sale in November!

Psst! Do you love a good mystery? Do you love the unfurling of the “Whodunit” plot-line, the murder by dimly-lit street light, the “It was a dark and stormy night” settings? Did you eagerly devour each and every Encyclopedia Brown novel as a kid, forcing yourself not to turn to the solutions at the back until you’d figured it out? Let’s see, one more murder-mystery intro… did you always wonder if it actually could occasionally be “Colonel Mustard in the conservatory with a candlestick?

Then Prometheus Books has a great new line for you. Introducing its new imprint, Seventh Street Books, “Where Fiction is a Crime.” I know, we’re straying a bit out of the hard science fiction mold with this week’s review; time to become a more rounded reader, and all that stuff your high school English teacher told you after you handed in the 20th book report featuring Asimov or Clarke. (Has anyone done a Sci-Fi detective story PI-style, I wonder?)

To ease you into the world of mystery, this week’s review is by an author that you might have heard of, Mike Resnick. Fans of this space will recall our reviews of his Starship space opera series, Starship: Rebel & Starship: Flagship. Mr. Resnick’s latest offering, Dog in The Manger sees Cincinnati Private Investigator Eli Paxton on the trail of the disappearance of a prized Weimaraner (the “dog” in the title) and into a deepening mystery where things are not what they seem. Without introducing any spoilers (it is a ‘mystery’ after all) the title refers to a lesser known Aesop’s fable of the same name. OK, I’d never heard of that one either, but the ever present moral revolves around denying someone something that you have absolutely no interest in purely out of spite. Amazing, what talking animals can teach us…

What I really liked about Dog in the Manger was how Resnick took hard-nosed, street-wise Paxton out of his own element (i.e. the streets of Cincinnati) and sent him on the trail of a disappearance that spans Mexico and the American southwest. Aside from being set in our old Astroguyz stopping ground of Tucson plus environs, being thrust into the unfamiliar brings out the best in a character. (Try it sometimes!)

As you might expect, the tale presented in Dog in the Manger is much more than just a story about a missing canine. Watch those casually dropped references, as they come back as clues later on. The book also includes a teaser chapter to another Eli Paxton tale, “Even Butterflies can Sting.”

Looking at the forthcoming catalog, Seventh Street Books has titles soon to be released by Owen Fitzstephen, Adrian McKinty, Mark Pryor, Erec Stebbins, and more. It’s great to see the classic mystery novel finding a new market; lovers of mystery and thrillers now have a new haven in Seventh Street Books!

Next Week: Not to forget Prometheus’s other fiction imprint, we look at The Creative Fire by Brenda Cooper, forthcoming from Pyr Books!