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Dragon Precinct by Keith DeCandido
Reviewed by David Medinnus, © 2012

Format: Book
By:   Keith DeCandido
Genre:   Fantasy + crime drama
Review Date:   December 25, 2012

There is a sub-genre of fantasy literature that combines the best elements of the police procedural or the hard-boiled detective, and the elements of a high fantasy world. Past masters of this amalgam of my favorite genres include the sublime Simon Green "Hawk & Fischer" novels, and the excellent Glen Cook "Randall Garrett, PI" series, and I am happy to add the name of Keith DeCandido to this roll of honor.

When Dragon Precinct was first published by Ace Books, I was rather enthusiastic about the book, and hand-sold it to customers one copy at a time. When I was not longer in the book business, I bought several copies to loan to friends; as is a trademark of an entertaining story, the books I loaned often went unreturned, with my blessing.

The strength of Dragon Precinct is in the rich tapesty of characters, from the various suspects to the detectives of the City-state. This book is not the author's first rodeo -- Keith DeCandido's work in SF has made him one of the most successful and beloved Star Trek authors. His work in creating new adventures for Farscape, Hercules, Xena, World of Warcraft, and Firefly fans to enjoy was the anvil in which he hammered out his mastery of pacing and characterization, and his original creation of Flingara and Dragon Precinct is the result.

His most successful character is the city-state of Cliff's End itself. This is a vibrant city with snooty elves, pragmatic dwarves, and myriad other fantasy race inhabitants. The city itself breathes as a living thing, and its moods are as varied as the police precincts with in it, from the Mermaid Precinct (located at the city harbor and its environs) to the Goblin Precinct (a neighborhood of quiet desperation, vice, and greed) to the stately manors of the Unicorn Precinct. The city guard range from virtuous guardians of the law to corrupt, venal police no better than the criminals they half-heartedly pursue, but all of them are palpably real, with a shade of sinner in the saint.

While the Ace paperback is long since out of print, the book is available in numerous formats, from the trade paperback to the Kindle and Nook versions. Do yourself a favor, and join me and the other fans of the Precinct novels in The Old Ball and Chain, the watering hole of the city guard. If they won't let you in, tell them that Danthres Tresyllione is expecting you, but if they want to tell her you can't come in, that's on their head.

I'll get the first round!

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