Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 5 stars
Provided by Author
Blurb: * Novel-length expansion of original short story found in Charmed & Dangerous anthology. *
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.
Review: Dim Sum Asylum starts off at a run and doesn’t let up. Landing smack bang in the middle of a chase involving the MC, a dirty cop and a skein of small dragons certainly sets the scene for this fast paced story. What follows is an action packed mystery set in a world populated with both the fantastical and the mundane. Navigating this world is cop Rokugo MacCormick, a rare natural born faerie/human hybrid, and his new partner Trent Leonard.
With strained tensions still existing in the fragile peace forged between the races, the magical and the non-magical, Roku and Trent work in the unique Arcane Crimes Division located in San Francisco’s Chinatown. The weird and wonderful (and sometimes downright scary) are all part of a day’s work. Animated objects wreaking destruction are less of a surprise than Roku’s immediate attraction to his new partner. Trent quickly lets him know it’s mutual. Even so, Roku’s past losses have left him closed off and uninterested when it comes to relationships. Even with a case fast spinning out of control and the head of a crime family (also known as his grandfather), Roku begins to realise that what’s between him and Trent is more than just lust.
Dim Sum Asylum boasts brilliant world-building and the wonderful people that fully inhabit it. The writing is fabulous, with complex, well-realised characters that come to life on the page, including the secondary characters. A few sentences sprinkled through the interaction gives a sense of who the character is as a person and you feel like you know them as well as Roku does.
I adored Roku. I liked Trent a lot, but wished I’d got to know him a lot better. I didn’t connect with him they way I did with Roku. Hopefully this is the first of a new series and that chance will come.
The location descriptions put the reader right in the action, you feel like you’re walking those streets, smelling the kimchee, dodging the questionable liquid raining down from the bridges connecting the rabbit warrens built above the city in the Chinatown district.
I found what was going on could get a bit confusing at times, not enough to frustrate me, but enough to need to learn to just go with the flow and trust that the threads will eventually come together and things would become clear, which is exactly what they did. This book centres very much on the case and the chaos that is Roku’s family. Trent and Roku’s connection simmered just under the surface throughout, but the case is the part of the plot that drove the story. I absolutely love the world the author has built. It is filled with fascinating creatures and is supremely well constructed. For all the fantastical it felt real and gritty. It’s a rare story that works equally well as a short story and as a full length novel. Dim Sum Asylum achieves it with ease.