Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword
Dragon Moon Press, 288 pp.
The author describes this book as “The Lord of the Rings meets Mickey Spillane.” Cynics will say that Glen Cook has already mined that concept about as deep as it can go with his Garrett P.I. stories but Morris has struck on a rich vein here. A magical mission to protect his homeland of Acryonis sends the dwarven warrior Billibub Baddings and nine magic artifacts through a Portal of Oblivion and into our world. Billi ends up in Chicago in the late 1920s and the magic items are scattered across the globe. After acclimating to life in the Windy City, Billi sets up shop as a private investigator. When the inevitable beautiful dame hires him to investigate the death of her mobster boyfriend, Billi discovers that every gangster in the city is searching for The Singing Sword. The sword doesn’t really sing but it is one of the magic doodads from Acryonis and, in the wrong hands, could bring about Really Bad Things. Will Billi beat Capone and Moran to the sword? Well, of course he will but there are enough clever twists along the way to keep you turning the pages. Morris cleverly plays the clichés of fantasy, detective, and gangster stories off of each other in a carefully plotted, subtly witty, action-packed thriller. I haven’t enjoyed a cross-genre detective story this much since Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. And with nine magic items on the loose you can bet that there will be plenty of sequels; Billi discovers in this volume that the Nazis have one of the artifacts so you just know that he’ll eventually end up fighting Sauron… er, uh… I mean Hitler.