Fresh Meat: Gods and Monsters: Mythbreaker by Stephen Blackmoore

Gods and Monsters: Mythbreaker by Stephen Blackmoore is a standalone thriller where a new set of gods square off against the old regime, with mankind left in the middle (available December 2, 2014).

Mythbreaker by Stephen Blackmoore is the second book in the Gods and Monsters series (the first, Unclean Spirits was by Chuck Wendig), but each functions as a standalone tale. In the tradition of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, the series relies on the premise of gods walking the earth, not quite human, but not quite with their power of old. In Mythbreaker, the gods are converging on Los Angeles in search of a prophet who can bring them back to their original glory.

If you’re not familiar with Stephen Blackmoore, know that reading him is a bit like watching late-night Spike TV movies while riding a roller coaster. They’re full of fast-paced shenanigans, inventive swearing, and spectacular explosions, all blended with a dry wit and a knowledge of old-word mythology that’s encyclopedic – and demented. Seriously, he conjures references that even takes Google a few seconds to find and mashes them with underworld crime bosses, petty crooks, and any other pop culture references that seem handy.

Two Chroniclers, one leg breaker, a god and a couple of cyborg Terminator clones who are the embodiment of the Internet pile into a van. It sounds like a joke, but Fitz can’t figure out the punchline.

Besides a dark, nihilistic, fatalistic sense of humor, Fitz is a fan of drugs. Hefty doses of drugs. Then again, if you had voices and visions running through your head, you might try to burn them out, too. Especially once you realized you were a “god radio” for not just one deity, but all of them – going back thousands of years across continents.

After years of doing everything from smoking crushed-up Quaaludes in a Skid Row homeless camp to snorting cocaine with Miami “businessmen,” Fitz has come to one inescapable conclusion.

Getting high is a huge pain in the ass.

“Louie Fitzsimmons?” the doctor says as he comes in through the door. He’s young, like Doogie Howser young. Asian, with wide, dark eyes. Is this what happens when you get older? You see people in their twenties and they look like they should still be at their mother’s tit?

“Far as I know.” He’s having a hard time remembering everything he saw when he freaked out in the hotel room. Mostly he remembers blood.

Bloodbaths early on in a crime fiction aren’t all that uncommon, but this is technically labeled “urban fantasy.” More thriller than mystery, it’s the sort of high-velocity train ride that jumps the tracks and barrels through four dozen city blocks before you find out if anyone survives the wreckage. Chapter One gives you little notion of how this thing will end, although violently is a good guess.

Basically, what started out with a bad trip that landed Fitz in the hospital facing a stint in jail, quickly turns to a destructive game of cat and mouse, or maybe psychotically-desperate hide and seek. Fitz thought things were bad when the worst thing he had to worry about was angering a drug kingpin and maybe spending some time sober in the County.

It doesn’t take long before the voices he’s always had in his head, the ones he’s spent a lifetime trying to shut up with every drug he can find, manifest themselves. And try to kill him.

And, I mean, of course they are. They’re gods and they’ve got their own problems. Fitz is one of the problems. Also, maybe their salvation. Not that FItz wants any part of any of it.

He has some help – though, if given the option, they might not be his first choice. Might not be his seventh or eighth either, but they have their uses.

Soon all of the Agents are mired in a sea of grasping hands dragging them down, their attacks hitting each other as much as they’re hitting the hands. The metal stairs shake from the battle, the sound of gunfire echoing through the enclosed space.

“The fuck are those?” Fitz says. He’s learning that everything with gods is symbolic. They manifest based on the thing they represent. The Man and his Agents, Bacchus and his wine, Big Money and, well, his money. But the grasping hands weighing the Agents down? The shrieking noise?

“Comment trolls,” Amanda says…

I mentioned the dark humor, right? Seriously, it’s been a while since a book made me laugh in public. For anyone who likes their urban fantasy with a dash of wit, who like their noir with a dose of mythology, who like fast-paced hijinks and lunacy. (As a caveat, it doesn’t include quite as much profanity as some of Blackmoore’s other work, but these people being hunted by powerful supreme beings do let loose a few good ones.)

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Neliza Drew is a tofu-eating teacher and erratic reader with a soft spot for crime fiction. She lives in the heat and humidity of southern Florida with three cats and her adorable hubby. She listens to way too much music, writes often, and spends too much time on Twitter (@nelizadrew).

Read all posts by Neliza Drew on Criminal Element.

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