Necropolis by Tim Waggoner. Or, P.I. Mad-Libs, Magickal Edition

Read March 2017
Recommended for fans Simon Green
★    ★  

Mostly, I have only Past Carol. to blame. You see, I realized my TBR list had over 600 books, over four years of reading if I ever tried to get through it. As I try to actually make these things functional, I was going through removing books that no longer appealed. I don’t know what I was up to in 2011, but I sure was frivolous about adding books. Necropolis was one of those 2011 reads, and one I could have done without. While I’m often looking for a new take on urban fantasy, this was MadLibs: Magickal Private Eye edition. You want regular edition, use noir private eye words (Mafia, mansion, gun, babe, etc). Magic edition, use supernatural ones (Lord, castle, holy water, vampire, etc).

_____ (Plain name) Richter has just finished his latest case successfully but with some damage to his _____(body part). ___ (name) stops by his _____ (health practitioner) for repairs and discovers he has limited time remaining. As he’s dragging himself home, a beautiful ____(description) woman requests his help recovering _____(lost object). The woman’s father is a powerful member of the _____ (social group) and she wants to return the ____(lost object) without him being any the wiser. Initially skeptical, ___ (plain name) agrees, hoping he can use her connections to repair his own situation.  Together they sneak into her father’s _____ (opulent dwelling) to investigate where the _____(lost object) was stored. There is no sign of forced entry, leading ___ (plain name) to suspect that someone related to the family is responsible. There are also some fine grains of white crystal left at the scene, leading them to suspect a ____(illegal drug) user. They head to a ____(occupation) informant, then a nightclub the user is known to frequent, only to be violently accosted by ____(group of people) en route. At the nightclub, they conveniently get information from a friend, who just happens to ___ (activity) at that club. They will also have to go to a ___ (drinking establishment) and a ___ (place for sex acts) in order to further their search.

The plot was boilerplate noir with more deus ex machina than a game of Sims. At virtually every point, there is a device/conversation/person that provides the couple with the next step. Most frequently, it is people who Matt has helped before, who decided to provide extra assistance strictly because they all appreciate what a great ol’ guy Matt is (this is used at least four times–generalized spoilers–driver, information, information, driver, entrance to the palace). There’s an arbitrary attack on Matt and Devona that serves as a neon ‘bad-guy-HERE’ sign.

What makes this ‘original’ is the setting of an alternate-dimension world where Earth-dwelling ‘Darkfolk’ decided to make their home. Necropolis as a city is hazily imagined, more along political lines than anything else. The most detail is lavished on our zombie P.I.’s undead state (but not how it happened), followed by vampire habits. Otherwise there are shifters, known as ‘lycs,’ and a variety of beings that may or may not have four limbs and involve gene manipulation. While sentient bugs, a bartender with only a skull on a corpulent human body, and a preying-mantis type bug that can’t wait to have sex with a human-looking female sound potentially interesting, mostly it isn’t. They all act like normal people in monstrous avatar forms. It’s all very weird, especially when these various beings are oogling and pinching Devona’s butt. It really does have a Mad-Libs sensibility of using one noun in place of another without much world-building or integration behind it.

Add a somewhat sophomoric writing style, and it just wasn’t enough to sustain my interest. Note that for some odd reason an area library decided to shelve this as ‘horror.’ Most empathetically not. Straight up private-eye fantasy. It most reminded me of Simon Green’s Nightside series and Glen Cook’s Garrett P.I. series; if you enjoy those works, this may work for you. I honestly have no idea what 2011 Carol. was thinking, but I wish she’d stop wasting my time.

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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10 Responses to Necropolis by Tim Waggoner. Or, P.I. Mad-Libs, Magickal Edition

  1. Melora says:

    Sorry the book disappointed, but I got a kick out of your review! I know just what you mean about wondering What I was thinking when I put books in my tbr “list” years ago which now don’t appeal.

      • Bookstooge says:

        I win the Comment War though. I used 3 exclamations whereas you only used 1.

        I win a car or something, right?

      • thebookgator says:

        You win… a free subscription to my blog. Does that work? I was a little scared to ask for comment clarification: were you describing a physical reaction you had to reading this (as in re-gurg type of ‘purge’), an empathetic suggestion to weed through my list, or an agreement to throw this book to the wind?

      • Bookstooge says:


        re: Purge. I was egging you on to ruthlessly go through your book list and not just weed, but wholesale weedwhack.
        I am a big fan of people getting their tbr’s under semi-control. So many people have so many freebies from ’10-13 [when the consumption craze hit its peak] that they picked up ONLY because it was free. those kind of books need to disappear…

      • thebookgator says:

        Ha!! Excellent point about freebies, especially the time period. I was usually decent about not adding them (quality was prone to be low), but honestly, I think I added some just as a way of showing support for an author. Then I never checked in with TBR again. I’ve moved at least 50-60 books off Mt. TBR, so I’m making progress!

  2. Karl says:

    — With so many books out there, I am most appreciative of you donating your time and energy to provide such fulfilling and insightfully honest reviews so that some of us don’t plunge into the pitfall of reading something that will not even begin to fill the reading need. Not being a huge fan of the Urban Fantasy genre while still knowing of the existence of a multitude of them out there, I admire your courage to to tell it how it is. Once again, KUDOS to your high level of telling-it-how-it-reads.and not having a time waster on the pile of our unknown future treasures. —

  3. thebookgator says:

    I’m glad I could amuse, even to someone who isn’t a big fan of UF. You are right–there are a lot of them out there, so when something seems different (lead is a zombie!), it can be hard to resist the shiny 🙂

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