Stalking the Unicorn: A Fable of Tonight
by Mike Resnick
Cover Artist: Dan Dos Santos
Review by Carolyn Frank
Pyr Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781591026488
Date: August 2008 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
It is New Year's Eve in New York City. Private detective John Justin Mallory is sitting in his office feeling sorry for his pitiful state of affairs and getting drunk. In walks an elf asking for his assistance in finding a lost unicorn before dawn. And they are off on an irresistibly funny venture,Stalking the Unicorn, in a parallel Manhattan inhabited by nasty leprechauns, blood-thirsty cat women and evil demons.
The unicorn in question, Larkspur, has a fabulous ruby located just below its horn, and so others in addition to Mallory and the elf are seeking its location. In this send-up of a standard fantasy adventure, Mallory acquires a band of more or less interested parties: Felina, a nearly insatiable cat woman, Eohippus, a steadily shrinking horse, Colonel Winnfred Carruthers, a retired wild game hunter. On the opposite side are the Grundy, the most powerful evil demon in New York, and Flypaper Gillespie, a thieving leprechaun. Wandering somewhere down the middle is Mürgenstürm, the little green elf who seemingly deliberately lost track of Larkspur, hired Mallory to find the unicorn, keeps wandering off for quicky sex, and will be killed by the guild of elves if he does not have the unicorn in his possession by morning.
Mallory adapts quickly to this alternate world; in his Manhattan, his wife has run off with his now ex-partner, he has no money to pay the office rent, and the prospect of new clients seems dim. However he does know how to question witnesses and other information providers, he does know how to go about locating hiding entities, and he does know how to solve conundrums. While fending off animated Natural History Museum predators or learning how to deal with subway Gnomes, he manages to learn relevant pieces of the mystery; all actions performed with major aplomb.
The streets are more or less the same as in our world, as are the buildings, although finding places is bit strange – to get to the 13th floor, one takes the elevator to the 15th, walks down 2 flights to the 12th, up one flight to the 14th and back down one flight to the 13th. But creatures act the same in both worlds: appeals to baser instincts always seem to win out. With a witty perspective on many aspects of city life, anyone who enjoys fantasy adventures in a more or less familiar urban setting will laugh their way through this wild entertainment.