by Steven Brust
Tor Books, 316 pp.
Steven Brust is best known for his (mostly) fantasy Vlad Taltos series. I know him as the author of one of my favorite science fiction romps, Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille (1990), so I was pretty excited to see him venturing into new territory. Good Guys is a straight-up urban fantasy that in many ways reads like a techno-thriller (thauma-thriller?)
Much like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Good Guys is set in a world where magic exists but is kept secret. There are strict rules about how and when magic can be used and two major magic-using factions; one believes it’s ok to use magic for profit the other is quite a bit stricter. Our heroes work for the stricter group (The Foundation) which is run very much like a corporate bureaucracy—expense reports, middle management, red tape, and everything else that goes with that territory.
When low-level employees of their rival organization (the Mystici) start turning up dead by magical means, our minimum wage-earning heroes are called on to investigate. Part mystery and part magic adventure, it’s a fast-paced story that makes for a perfect summertime beach read. A nice light read like this also makes a great starting point for a new series (I’m hoping!). A world where magicians deal with such a mundane work environment makes for one of the most relatable urban fantasies I’ve read. I would definitely love to see more of this world.