Inspector Nick Paris is your all too typical cynical, bitter, hard-drinking, chain-smoking police detective, and his world is being rocked. The latest corpse he's been brought out to see and investigate the circumstances around the death is that of a fairy. The tiny, impossibly good looking, humanoid with wings kind of fairy. While still trying to wrap his mind around how that was possible, a crow (named Malbus) flies into his house demanding, demanding a smoke and talking to him about the murdered fairy. Not long after this, he's visited by an elf and a rock troll (Tergil and Rocky).
And that's just Day One of his new reality.
Essentially, there's a connection between our world and the world of all these magical beings -- a portal of sorts that those who desire to can travel between the two (or people and animals can stumble through unintentionally). For all sorts of great reasons, the magical creatures/folk kept their existence from humanity -- and let what humans know fade into myth and legend. But something's happened in their world, and those who are over here have to come seeking help (in terms of political asylum) and possibly even letting humanity in on what's going on around them.
This is a little beyond Paris' typical caseload, but he and his Superintendent, a no-nonsense woman named Thorpe, respond very well to these new challenges -- dragging other officers and even the army along with them. They are obviously relying on the advice and guidance of the magical creatures -- Tergil in particular (although Malbus makes sure his input is heard, too). They also recruit a local supernatural expert -- Cassandra, a self-styled witch that no one in the police would've given any credence to if not for this new reality.
As fun as Paris, Tergil and Malbus are, Cassandra is a delight. She's wise, insightful, and has a fantastic sense of humor -- she might be harder for Paris to cope with than fairies, dwarves, and trolls. I shouldn't forget Paris' Sergeant Bonetti -- he's loyal, strong, brave and probably not as mentally quick as he should be. He's also the target of near-constant mockery from his superior. I'm not sure why he puts up with the abuse, but I found myself laughing at it. When the fate of multiple worlds is on the line, it's these few who will stand strong in Manchester, England to keep everyone safe.
I can think of as many reasons that this is a lousy comparison to make as I can to make it -- but throughout Breaking the Lore I kept thinking about Chrys Cymri's Penny White books. There'll be a big overlap in the Venn diagram of Fans of Penny White and Fans of Inspector Paris. I'm sure there are other comparisons that are as apt, or more so -- but this is the one that I kept coming back to for some reason.
I had so much fun reading this book, Redsmith has a way with words that makes me think it really doesn't matter what story he decided to tell -- I'd want to read it. He was able to express the seriousness of the situation, while never stopping (either narratively or through the characters) the quips, jokes and sense of fun. There's an infectious charm to the prose and characters that easily overcomes whatever drawbacks the novel has. I'm not saying this is a novel filled with problems, it's just that I woudn't care about most of them thanks to the voice.
Now, Redsmith's wit does have an Achilles' heel -- puns. Redsmith is an inveterate punster, and will hit you with them when you least expect it. Now me? I love a good pun -- and I hate them at the same time. Maybe you know what I mean. I cackled at pretty much all of them (frequently audibly), but I hated both myself and Redsmith for it. You know those, Pearls Before Swine strips where Rat beats up Stephan Pastis because of the very carefully constructed pun? Yeah, this book is a series of those moments (but he rarely gives the setup Pastis does, usually it's a quick sucker punch).
There are many other points I'd intended to make, but I think I've gone on long enough. This novel is silly, goofy, intelligent, charming -- with a fresh take on a great idea. You'll find yourself enjoying Paris, Cassandra, Malbus, Tergil and the rest. I can see a few different ways that Redsmith takes Book Two, and I'm looking forward to seeing which one he picks (probably none of my ideas). But before that happens, I'm just going to relish the fun that Breaking the Lore was and encourage you all to go buy and read it for yourself.
Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Canelo via NetGalley in exchange for this post -- thanks to both for this.