||[Dec. 8th, 2011|08:47 am]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
P.I. Felix Renn is back, investigating another murder in the alternate Toronto where doorways have opened to a dark, dangerous, supernatural dimension called the Black Lands, in Ian Rogers' latest Renn adventure from Burning Effigy Press, Black-Eyed Kids.
This time, Renn is hired by a man to follow his soon-to-be ex-wife, ostensibly to catch her in the act of adultery--your basic P.I. job--but somehow, impossibly, the woman he's shadowing is murdered in her apartment while Renn is parked right outside doing surveillance. Renn follows what few leads there are, and discovers the whole marriage and adultery story was a lie. The two principals knew each other in a completely different way. But Renn has only a short time to put the pieces together, because suddenly he's being hunted by the Black-Eyed Kids, two terrifying creatures from the Black Lands that take the form of young children. The Black-Eyed Kids are closing in on him quickly, leaving Renn to wonder if he'll live long enough to unravel the mystery.
The Black-Eyed Kids are Rogers' scariest invention yet. The monsters in Temporary Monsters were pretty run of the mill--a vampire, a werewolf, a ghost--though the ash angels in The Ash Angels were certainly creepy. The Black-Eyed Kids, on the other hand, are relatable in form but utterly terrifying in action and motivation, not to mention extremely violent, all of which, I think, makes them really frightening. We also get to meet another weird and original creature from the Black Lands, the blackwood, a carnivorous, spider-like tree, which shows up in one of the novella's best set pieces.
The Felix Renn stories are a lot of fun, filled with humor, terror, and mystery (three great tastes that taste great together!), but I'm really looking forward to the Renn novel that Rogers is apparently working on. Given some room to breathe, Felix, Sandra (his ex-wife and current secretary), and the Paranormal Intelligence Agency (PIA), could really be fleshed out, and their relationships explored.
If you haven't visited the shadowy world of Felix Renn, now is the time to jump in. There's even a contest underway at Bloody Bookish to win all three chapbooks!