Dave Freer, late of South Africa and now living in Australia, is one of the nominees for this year's Hugo in the Fan Writer category. His blog entries truly are of stellar quality. This review, however, is based on the advanced copy I received for his a soon-to-be released novella, “The Bolg and The Beautiful.” I'm not certain what music is appropriate as background for this type of review, but I'm going with ZZ Top, which is almost always a good choice. And in this case it will give me way to try to communicate to you, in a multimedia sort of way, what reading this is going to do to your head. Because Dave indulges in wordplay. Shamelessly. Incessantly. Like “Forewarned makes four-armed, which must make buying shirts tough.” Like that.
I suppose it is incumbent on me to give a brief description of Bolg, for those who have not had the pleasure of his acquaintance: he's 4'9” of Sharp Dressed Man. Tattooed blue from head to toe and every where in between, Bolg is an 1800 year old former king of the Picts. (Someone recently made a horrible pun about woad, which I will not repeat.) The Pict King business being somewhat an industry on the wane, not only locally but Nationwide, Bolg now makes his living as a private investigator. There's a bit of a problem with that, though: His clientele are are drawn from the ranks of the undead, and they tend to have no money. And Bolg's bills don't stop, just because his clients have other priorities. He's Gotsa Get Paid. Someway, somehow, how, how.
Fortunately, he has friends, including ancient sorcerer Fintan Mac Bochra, with connections to the affluent in need; it appears that Freya, goddess of (among other things) love, has been ripped off. Rather than Waiting for the Bus, Bolg drives his Harley to her house. This turns out to be a good thing, since Freya's guardbeast is Hildisvini, a half-ton boar, who has a crush on Bolg's ….hog....and instead of trampling him for trespasses, merely coos sweetly at the bike before Freya sends him away.
It appears that Freya and her daughter Gersemi (her name means 'treasure') have been bilked, by a banker selling a reverse-mortgage retirement plan. (Freya's other daughter, Hnoss, who's name also means 'treasure', was not present for the swindle.) The culprit escaped with all their gold, leaving only title deeds, and a special Pearl Necklace called Brisinghamen, which makes the female wearer utterly irresistible to men. And no, it wasn't made of pearls, and yes, that's the last ZZ Top song reference, because I can't drag this review out any more without getting into spoiler territory. I wanted to hold out for Cheap Sunglasses, but couldn't make it happen.
At any rate, you MUST anticipate snickers through the rest of the hard-boiled detective story. It's quite a bit more than that, because Bolg provides services more closely associated with family counselors than gumshoes, but I suppose that's all covered under the terms of the contract. Those things have Legs.