Stalking the Unicorn
PYR, Aug 2008, $15.00
It is New Year’s Eve in present day Manhattan and private detective John Justin Mallory is having a drink at his office when he sees the elf Murgensturrm; the sleuth assumes he is hallucinating. The elf convinces the shamus he is real and needs his help. On Murgensturn’s Manhattan in a parallel universe he was given an assignment by his guild and he blew it. If he does not find the unicorn Larkspur by the next morning he will die. Leprechaun Flyer Gillespie stole the unicorn on behalf of the demon Grundy.
Gillespie double crosses Grundy so Mallory on this alternate earth searches for the impish leprechaun. He gets helps from Felina the cat-girl, who adores him and is at his side as he makes his inquiries. A small talking horse informs Mallory that Larkspur is special because on her forehead is a magical ruby that is the gateway between earths. Something happens and his quest becomes personal. Mallory must find the ruby or become trapped on this alternate Manhattan that is weirder than his birth side as elves, goblins, dwarves and other make up part of the populace. Worse some want the outsider dead.
Mike Resnick shows why he is a first class storyteller who switches from his more serious works to a lighthearted whimsical urban fantasy filled with interesting characters from various mythological species and of course a somewhat stunned human sleuth. The tale located in Manhattan is fascinating as there is no telling what might crawl out of the subway (sounds actually like the NYC I grew up in). The hero is a Phillip Marlowe type placed in a strange yet similar environs and his investigation is very entertaining as he follows clues that seem slightly off kilter in his mind.