Hot Lead, Cold Iron is the first book in a new series, the “Mick Oberon Jobs” by Ari Marmell. They’re noir fantasy set in an alternate 1930s era Chicago. It’s still got prohibition and gangsters, but there are magic users and fate (think fae) secretly running around meddling with things.
This is the story of how Mick Oberon, PI and self-exiled fate prince reunites some mobster parents with their biological child after they realize their daughter was actually a changeling.
It’s not just the story of Mick Oberon doing it. Mick tells you the story directly, complete with little asides and spoilery bits.
And if you’re thinking that I’d come to regret that someday, congratulations. You’ve been paying attention.
Mick’s really really old, doesn’t eat anything, and only drinks milk products. I could absolutely see this keeping me from identifying with him, but Marmell has Oberon talking directly to me as the reader in such a conversational way that I can’t help but like the guy. While it uses the tools of noir storytelling, this doesn’t feel like an especially dark book.
I should probably mention that Marmell went all in on the 1930s slang. People ride in flivvers, pack roscoes, and dope things out. I had lots of chances to figure out the meanings of new words from context. It made for a wonderfully immersive world and helped keep me in an appropriate frame of mind.
Tell ya square, I probably didn’t need to haul the damn vacuum clear across the Windy City, but… Mrs. Ottati was wise to me and at least some of the real Chicago skinny. Wasn’t too likely, but she mighta taken a few extra precautions with her security; figured a prop might help me push past any resistance
This all worked out really well. I never once got thrown out of the narrative by word choice. Instead I’d find myself thinking “that turn of phrase was delicious”.
The plot and pacing owe more to thrillers than whodunits, taking you for a wild ride with only a couple noticeable pauses for exposition.
I really liked Hot Lead, Cold Iron. Hopefully we’ll get many more Mick Oberon books. It seems like there’s a lot more to explore in this world.