From video game characters seeking civil rights and a cave dragon loan shark pondering an investment, to Santa Clause's Australian vacation and an enemy of Sam Spade's seeking revenge-plus visits to the Nightside and Sookie Stackhouse's hometown--Unusual Suspects invokes a dozen imaginative tales featuring otherworldly investigators trailing uncanny criminals across fantastical realms governed by the laws of magic.
This follow-up to Powers of Detection (2006) breaks no new ground, but offers 12 stories with enough well-paced variety to keep readers happy. In Charlaine Harris's notable Sookie Stackhouse tale, "Lucky," one insurance agent's good luck makes him a target. A "resurrected" Humphrey Bogart is murdered in Carole Nelson Douglas's "Bogieman" while Santa Claus investigates the murder of an elf in John Straley's "Weight of the World." On the lighter side, a divorc e gets used to a menagerie of ghostly housemates in Sharon Shinn's "The House of Seven Spirits" and a young woman confronts a cave dragon turned loan shark to solve her father's disappearance in Laura Anne Gilman's "Illumination." Strong tales outnumber the weaker ones by a considerable margin and will satisfy fans of both genres.