I’m a sucker for Prohibition era supernatural stories. Told in the first person perspective from private detective Mick Oberon, Hot Lead, Cold Iron by Ari Marmell is a fun and exciting romp through 1930s Chicago and its Fairyland reflection.
Detective Mick Oberon packs a wand instead of a gun and doesn’t wear a hat due to his pointy ears, whether they show under his illusion or not. He has a friend on the force who’s a werewolf, whom Mick opens a gate through to Fairyland for every full moon. We also don’t know Mick’s real name. Mick Oberon is the name he chose when he left Elfhame some time ago and came to live amongst humans.
The narrative is told in a conversational style, with lots of period appropriate slang whose connotations can be picked up from context, so it’s fun to read but not confusing.
Brass and wood gats, carriages with white-walled tires, and skyscrapers partially supported by impossibly large trees—not the mention the Seelie Court modeled after human bureaucracy and the Unseelie Court after the mob—the Chicago of the Fairy Realm is a cool mix of modern (for the time) and natural elements. Since Fairies obviously can’t work with iron, and advanced technology is physically painful to be around, they’ve had to come up with both mundane and magical workarounds in order to copy human culture.
The whole mess kicks off when Mick finds himself desperate for cash—desperate enough to meet with a mobster’s wife. Her daughter was switched with a changeling sixteen years back and now that she’s found out, she wants Mick to find her real daughter. And Mrs. Ottati’s mother-in-law is a real witch, an Italian strega skilled in magic who makes life difficult for Mick—she wants her granddaughter back at all costs, but hates having to work with what she sees as an evil creature.
I had a hell of a lot of fun with this book and I look forward to the next one, Hallow Point.