Title: Dim Sum Asylum
Author: Rhys Ford, Narrator: Greg Tremblay
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 9, 2017
Genre(s): Gay Fantasy
Page Count: 240
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Welcome to Dim Sum Asylum: a San Francisco where it’s a ho-hum kind of case when a cop has to chase down an enchanted two-foot-tall shrine god statue with an impressive Fu Manchu mustache that’s running around Chinatown, trolling sex magic and chaos in its wake.
Senior Inspector Roku MacCormick of the Chinatown Arcane Crimes Division faces a pile of challenges far beyond his human-faerie heritage, snarling dragons guarding C-Town’s multiple gates, and exploding noodle factories. After a case goes sideways, Roku is saddled with Trent Leonard, a new partner he can’t trust, to add to the crime syndicate family he doesn’t want and a spell-casting serial killer he desperately needs to find.
While Roku would rather stay home with Bob the Cat and whiskey himself to sleep, he puts on his badge and gun every day, determined to serve and protect the city he loves. When Chinatown’s dark mystical underworld makes his life hell and the case turns deadly, Trent guards Roku’s back and, if Trent can be believed, his heart… even if from what Roku can see, Trent is as dangerous as the monsters and criminals they’re sworn to bring down.
This tale is developed from one of the author’s short stories. Set in a San Francisco Chinatown where the mythology is reality and the area is twisted to fit the mythology. As a story that revolves around the developing relationship between two apparently mismatched cops thrown together to solve crimes, it is not a new scenario. Lace that with magic and violence that is largely thrown at them by a variety of unpleasant people and beasties and it has more than a few echoes of other similar series. Where this stands apart is with the development of locational context and backstory, which is very well done and adds to the credibility of the storyline. Much of the original short story provides the context whereby the two main characters are thrown together, the joins between the old and new stories are quite smooth with no noticeable change in style. Characterization is very good, even of the secondary characters.
The growing relationship between the protagonists is consistent with the story and is believable within the context. The reader learns more about each of the characters at the same time as the individuals themselves. As such the reader is drawn into their relationship over time at their pace. Sex is introduced sufficiently far into the story to be appropriate with the state of their relationship.
As for the overall pace of the novel, it is full of action that keeps the reader interested but is possibly a little too full to make it seem real, as there is no pause.
Although the book ends with all loose ends neatly tied, there is sufficient context and character development to make the reader want to come back for more. It is an interesting environment and so there is always the potential for a further story with different characters.
Narration: The second reading of the book, this time with narration by Greg Tremblay. The narrator provides a well-paced and subtle performance that provides nuances to the characters that add depth and clarity to the story. Certainly more details of the tale are highlighted through his presentation that were missed on the first reading. Voice characterisation is provided that is sufficient to differentiate the characters, but this is done subtly and enhances rather than distracts from the story. Despite the closeness of the readings, this performance made a sufficient difference that interest was maintained throughout.