Count S.A. Olson’s Black Shadow Detective Agency: Demon for Hire is the quirky and highly entertaining second book in the author’s Black Shadow Detective Agency series.
Demon for Hire centers on Jason Black, whose mother was a human witch and whose father was a Daemon (although “demon” is used in the title, the book itself uses “Daemon”). Black has been working as a detective for at least a century of his centuries’-long life. He likes his bourbon, which he calls “cough medicine,” in two-finger pours and has a crow named Shadow as his familiar.
The book recounts three mysteries Black is hired to solve, all mashups of supernatural fantasy and hard-boiled noir detective fiction and set in a modern yet supernatural Minneapolis, or Murderopolis, as it is known. His cases include a beautiful woman who fears supernatural creatures are trying to kill her; a missing teenager, who lives in “a filthy rich part of town”; and another missing person, an old friend’s granddaughter.
Olson is an adept storyteller, weaving funny descriptions with engaging world building and witty dialogue. In one scene, talking through the intercom to his secretary, Black says: “And Sweetheart? Could you stop by the pharmacy and pick up a couple of bottles of cold medicine?…” “Yes boss, I’ll go over to Grand Street Liquors for you,” the secretary responds sarcastically. “At least she had stopped complaining about me calling her sweetheart,” Black quips.
Black is a likeable demon with a heart of gold, who brings chicken soup and cough lozenges to his sick secretary and has different contracts ready for clients, depending on what they can afford. “I once took a case for a quarter for a little girl whose father had vanished,” he notes.
Olson’s engaging prose is marred by the occasional comma splice, but that’s a minor issue. Fans of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series and Robert Crais’ hard-boiled detective stories will relish the adventures of Black and his associates.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.