Book Review: Arthur Mace, Medieval Gumshoe

Book cover: Arthur Mace, Medieval Gumshoe by James Husum

Arthur Mace, Medieval Gumshoe is the first book in the Adventures of Arthur Mace series by James Husum. It’s the second mystery I’ve read in a row, taking my lifetime total to 3. Unless you count the Samantha Moon series, in which case I’m way higher than that.

What Arthur has that none of the other mystery protagonists had is humor, and lots of it. He has Sam Spade’s hard-boiled edge and general dislike for everything, but a wit to match his twin sharp daggers, delivered in healthy amounts of dry sarcasm. Puns are metered to good effect throughout this fantasy tale, where Husum has gathered all your favorite creatures of lore into one, dysfunctional kingdom that’s about to have its worst day ever—unless Arthur can stop it.

Unfortunately, the surly gumshoe attracts trouble like gum to a shoe (yes, I said it). Everybody, including the people he’s trying to save, are determined to make him pay for whatever woes are troubling them that day, making his job to please a powerful and short-tempered employer exponentially harder. Even the alluring Desdemona and her generous, repeated offers to help can’t crack the rock-hard shell of pessimism and rotten luck that keep Arthur constantly on his toes and terminally single.

Arthur Mace is a short (108 page), delightful mystery in a fantasy setting that had me laughing out loud until the dramatic end. Definitely one for the bookshelf.