The Gumshoe, the Witch, and the Virtual Corpse
"Welcome to 21st century Atlanta.
During your stay, depending on your tastes, you can cruise gay midtown (I hear that the Inquisition Health Club has introduced manacles and chains to the aerobics class) or check out the Reverend-Senator Stonewall's headquarters at Freedom Plaza (watch out for the Christian Militia guarding it, though) or attend a sky-clad Wiccan sabbat (by invitation only).
Avoid the courthouse, where the Cherokee have turned out in full war-paint to renegotiate a nineteenth century land deal.
Also stay away from all cemeteries, at least until the police find out why someone is disinterring and crucifying corpses.
As you can tell, this is a lively novel, full of intricate plotting and engaging off-beat characters. Among the latter are a gay detective, a Wiccan family, an ambitious televangelist with an eye on the White House, an artist whose medium is flesh and blood, a Cherokee drag queen--and then there's poor Benji, who would just like to make it to his fifteenth birthday, assuming the MIBS don't get him first or his Baptist parents don't ground him for life because his new girlfriend is a witch.
Oh yes, I enjoyed this novel. Very much. It's a deft, unusual combination of mystery, social commentary, fantasy, and humor. I couldn't have told you where it was going until the last chapter, but I kept reading faster and faster to find out."
"There's a great SF premise here... the writing is tight, the drama tense."
"It's not often you encounter a book that is PI novel and procedural, science fiction near-future satire, fantasy and coming-of-age story all rolled into one. That mixture sounds like a recipe for disaster: surely, you assume, this is too much to cram into one modestly-sized novel. What a refreshing pleasure it is, then, to discover that this book succeeds in all of these areas.
Lots of novels have wildly complimentary cover blurbs, though few print as many as this book, or at such length, and few have so many blurbs from top-notch authors (Nancy Kress, Mike Resnick and especially Charles de Lint, to name just three). Fewer still deserve all that praise. For this rare gem, Hartman deserves all that praise and more."
--The Drood Review of Mysteries
"A fine debut novel by Keith Hartman. What kind of novel I'm at a little of a loss to say. Equal arguments can be made that it's a police procedural, a contemporary Wiccan fantasy, a gay PI novel, a near future sf thriller, a novel of social commentary, and even, in the sections from the point of view of one character, a YA coming of age story.
In the end, it's a bit of them all, I suppose, which is part of what made me enjoy it so much. I love a book that breaks down the walls between genres, that just tells a story, the author trusting himself and the story enough to let it go wherever it leads him.
There's enough payoff in characterization, story, and ideas to make the trip through its pages a real pleasure."
-- Charles de Lint, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, June 1999
"Hartman weaves an intriguing web with numerous well-defined characters. The background world is both funny and scarily possible."
-- The Denver Post, June 27, 1999
"Like his hero, loved his plot, and envied his style."
- Keith Hartman, December 2009
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