Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Tor Books (March 6, 2018)
Length: 320 pages
My Rating: 2 stars
Good Guys is an urban fantasy take by Steven Brust, author of the Vlad Taltos fantasy series; it is light, fast-paced, and readable in the vein of other detective focused UF out there. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this Brust novel as interesting as his fantasy offerings, so much so, in fact, that I kept finding reasons to put off writing a review. But, at the end of the day, I decided to put my views on the screen since everyone who wants to deserves an opportunity to read my thoughts – even if you don’t agree with them.
The focus of the story here is a secret group of people from a mysterious and magical Foundation: their job to police the world and keep rogue magic users under control, as well as keep normal people from realizing magic is very real and very dangerous. Naturally our heroes are underpaid and under appreciated, but they are still out there risking their lives, attempting to track down a serial killer who is committing magical murders across the globe. The bureaucratic red tape of their organization nearly as unnerving as the actions of their shadowy adversaries.
Like most UF, this novel is very detective/mystery oriented, but it also has a strong dose of cold war spy themes and a good number of deaths. Grizzly ones. Murders where forensics play a key role in deciphering the clues. All of the killing wrapped up in shadowy conspiracies. And what makes it worse is our heroes begin to doubt themselves, their purpose. Are they really even the good guys? Or, are they merely ignorant pawns being shuffled across the board by people in power who are, in reality, the bad guys!
If you love urban fantasy, I’m sure all that sounds decent enough. And, overall, I have to admit Good Guys is a readable story; it had more than a few twists and turns, even provided some interesting tweaks on the standard magical investigations so familiar by this point. As I said earlier though, I was a bit underwhelming by it though.
First off, there are a lot of point of view characters and a lot of viewpoint shifts. The author jumping from Donovan, our team leader, to our criminal to other recruits to other bosses to . . . Lots of people. You get the point. And it was annoying as hell. At least, for me. Mainly because I never got to spend enough time with anyone to actually care at all about them. And when I don’t care about characters I lose interest in the story.
Second, the time Brust spent showing the motives of the criminal really added nothing to the plot for me personally. Okay, maybe it helped me understand this person’s thoughts and feelings, but I didn’t need to be in the bad guys head for me to understand these things. Honestly, Donovan and the investigation could have shown me the villain’s true motives just as easily and probably better.
Lastly, I grew tired of the bureaucratic conspiracies. I know that bureaucracy can be bad. Evil people can hide in bureaucratic systems. Politics – especially office politics – sucks. But I live those things every day, so a story focused around them wasn’t terribly exciting for me.
Ultimately, your decision to read Good Guys will hinge on whether you love detective/mystery type urban fantasy. If your answer is a resounding “Yes” then this one is a book you will probably enjoy. If your answer is “No” then skip this and give Brust’s Vlad Taltos a go.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.