“When Monsters have nightmares, they’re dreaming about us.” MHI Company Handbook
When we last met with Owen Zavasta Pitt, he was still reeling from the discovery that the world as he knew it was not the world as it is. Monsters are real, the government has a black ops division of the F.B.I. that deals with them, and after a nasty run in with his manager at work (who was also a recent convert to lycanthropy), Pitt discovers that the life of an accountant may not be for him. Monster Hunter-yes; middle management drone-no.
Fast forward a year, and we find Owen in a state of relative contentment. He’s managed to save the World at least once, met (and courted) the girl of his dreams, and does a job that he loves for a salary that makes life quite comfortable. Everything should be gravy, right?
Well, not so much.
You see, during the course of saving the world from the evil forces of another dimension, Owen attracted the attention of an elder God. Apparently, destroying the artifact that would allow it to enter our dimension and slaying a multitude of its acolytes merits attention, as did the tactical nuclear weapon delivered into its posterior, courtesy of the U. S. government. Owen’s not to blame for that, but someone’s got to take the fall, and the Old One (picture Lovecraft’s Cthulu) has decided Owen shall be the one. Ironic that a bounty hunter should have his own bounty.
Owen is blissfully unaware of either the nuke or the bounty, contentedly hunting down chupacabras and keeping the Mexican Riviera safe for both the locals and drunken Spring break kids. So, it comes as a surprise to him when he gets a knock on the door, and then a subsequent knock on the head, from a mysterious Englishman, a shadowman of sorts, who remains incorporeal in the shade, but packs a real punch in the light of day. Nor does it help that he’s brought a truckload of Zombies with him and released them on the resort’s party-goers.
Fast forward a couple of hours and poor Owen is stuck in a Mexican prison accused of multiple murder and disavowed by his own government. If that’s not enough, while there, he gets a visit from his in-laws. At the best of times that can be a pain in the neck, but when your in-laws are also Vampires of the nastiest sort, metaphor and reality can become mixed up. Lucky for him though, they subscribe to the adage that, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and have come to Owen with a proposition.
The Englishman is a necromancer, and being Undead themselves, they don’t really want to become enthralled to him, hence, a truce and an alliance. However, Owen has a problem being allied with the Undead, subscribing to the less known adage that, “the enemy of my enemy is sometimes also my enemy,” so that idea is a no go.
You really don’t want to say “no” to Owen’s mother in law. You. Really. Don’t.
Okay, Evil necromancer on one side, Evil Undead on the other. Should be enough to deal with, right?
Aha, let’s not forget about the United States government.
Yep, that’s right, that same government that ticked off the Elder God. Specifically, the Monster Control Bureau, a subsidiary of the Department of Justice and royal pain in the ass under the leadership of one Agent Myers, himself a former MHI alumni (with a grudge). They’ve been following the movements of the shadowman and his cult organization, “The Sanctified Church of the Temporary Mortal Condition,” and now want to use Owen as bait to draw out their leader. With that, the stage is set for a rollicking story full of non-stop action as Owen and his compatriots try to thwart the plans of the Death Cult, deal with a government agency that would rather see them disbanded, and as a byproduct of stopping the shadowman, keep him alive.
There are a lot of things to love in a Correia novel. His writing is both witty and so fast paced that you don’t want to put the book down for any reason while you’re reading it, and feel a sense of dissatisfaction when you get to the end and realize it’s over. His take on the supernatural is both quirky and refreshing, taking accepted mythology and turning it on its head. In the first novel, we’re introduced to the Trailer Park Elves; this time around, it’s a gang of garden Gnomes. And I do mean, “Gang.” (If those THUG LIFE tats don’t tip it off, the sawed off shotguns and turf wars will.) Fans of his first novel also get several questions answered, such as:
What’s the deal with Agent Franks? (and really, shame on me for not figuring it out earlier)
Why the animosity between Agent Myers and Earl Harbinger, and what does it have to do with one Martin Hood?
What’s the reason for Owen’s dad training him from birth to be a survivalist?
Who is Mr. Trash Bags, anyway?
Honestly, the Monster Hunter series reminds me a lot of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, with Owen playing a role very similar to Harry Dresden, the difference being that while Owen is a bounty hunter, Harry is a detective. Both series are thoroughly enjoyable and a great addition to the genre. It’s going to kill me to wait until July of this year for the release of the third book of the series, Monster Hunter Alpha. In the meantime, if you’d like to keep abreast of Larry’s writing projects (and other interesting stuff), he maintains a blog at Monster Hunter Nation that you can check out.
(p.s. Want to read about the Trailer Park Elve’s? Larry’s got a nice little story about them over at Baen Books)