Friday, 13 July 2012

My Goodreads Review of Stein & Candle Detective Agency, Vol 2 - almost perfect, but left me miffed with the last story!

The Stein & Candle Detective Agency: Cold WarsThe Stein & Candle Detective Agency: Cold Wars by Michael Panush
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, I'm going to tell you what I liked about this book first and then I'm going to tell you why I'm also a little bit miffed so only gave it four rather than five stars! BEWARE - the miffed bit will contain spoilers.

Well, as in vol 1, this book has lots of action, blazing guns, occult nasties and is mostly written with a touch of humour (although Crimson Catch gets a bit dark). And the best bit of that is, it's better written than vol 1. The stories flow better, the author really seems to have found his voice for Mort and this book is an easy read. Less typos too. I just love Weatherby, he's adorable: a hard-shelled, soft-centred kid doing what he thinks is right, and he even gets to meet a girl :). We also get an origin story for the S&C Detective Agency.

However, why I'm miffed comes in more than one packet, two to be exact.


The first one isn't really too big a miff, it's the story The Hollow, which I loved as a premise, but, really, was not much of a story for me, because it broke from the formula that I like about S&CDA. Biggie for me, Weatherby is hardly in it, sidelined for a preacher and Weatherby's sister, Selena. That's not my only problem with it though. Because it jumps in in the middle, it's quite difficult to get a feel for the bad guys (only a bit of tell, not showing about their history) and we jump right to the prep for the big confrontation, no build up, no skirmishes, nothing. So I was a bit disappointed. Although I did like the final battle, monsters gave me the creeps, even if Weatherby had been written out!

I will add that breaking from the formula is not all bad, it works sometimes, like in Business Proposition, where it's told from Weatherby's POV - that really worked.

My second peeve is a bigger one for me, because it is a pet peeve of mine. The last story, Crypt Crashers, is not a story in its own right, it's a starter for an arc. Now, I don't dislike arcs completely, what I dislike is when the reader (or watcher) satisfaction is sacrificed to feed the arc. And there was absolutely no reader satisfaction in this story, because it was failure for the heroes, not once, but three times. First, they ignore perfectly good warnings from someone they trust, when, really, they should at least have taken precautions based on said warnings. Second, they lose the first round, okay, not a deal breaker, could just be a set up for the next round, but when they lose the final round as well, I was left really let down. There should have been something, they should have come away having at least bruised the big bad, so that he was going away to lick his wounds, but no, they just lost, plain and simple, leaving me, the reader, feeling very flat - at the end of the book, no less. I wouldn't have minded the big bad getting away, it means they have a classic arch nemesis to pop up in the odd story, but just rubbing it in my face that the guy got away and beat them hollow and it was all their own fault, well, thanks for nothing!

So, I still love Mort and Weatherby. I like their adventures, I like the gung-ho approach to dealing with the supernatural. But 4 out of 5 rather than the perfect five, mainly because of the arc-teaser story at the end.

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