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Unshapely Things    by Mark del Franco order for
Unshapely Things
by Mark del Franco
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Unshapely Things is the first in a new series by Mark del Franco, that masterfully blends detective thriller with fantasy. Mystery fans who like a little fantasy in their read will be captivated by Connor Grey's adventures in the section of Boston known as The Weird.

Connor Grey used to be a powerful Druid with a high position in The Guild. All of that changed when an elf terrorist activated something that was not meant to be used and a dark spot formed in Grey's brain. Now, Grey is relegated to living in the unsavory neighborhood of The Weird and helping his friend Murdock on police cases that involve the fey. After Grey applies his expertise to a serial killer case involving dead male fairy prostitutes, he gets more than he bargained for when the Guild becomes involved, leading to cover-up galore. The stones found in the dead bodies and the trace of essence that is not-quite fairy, not-quite elf intrigues Grey so much that he cannot lay off once the case is solved, leading to his becoming a suspect and worse. With his powers no longer active, Grey must rely on his wits if he is to solve the case and live to see Midsummer's Night.

Unshapely Things is a fast-paced thrill ride through the dark alleys of The Weird and the cavernous corridors of The Guild. Del Franco never pauses the action, keeping the story moving even when Grey is thinking. The fantasy element he adds is a nice twist to what otherwise would be a standard, well-crafted police procedural/private detective novel. And Connor Grey is a very likable protagonist. The twisting action and engaging lead make Unshapely Things hard to put down. Mark del Franco has created a series that will appeal to more readers than a standard fantasy novel and maybe even draw some mystery readers into reading fantasy.

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