Pratchett's Discworld books are generally thought of as comic fantasy, but the opening pages of this novel offer enough crime-fiction tropes to keep any mystery reader or watcher smiling. From American crime, there is the besieged urban police precinct beset by racial tension in the station house and out. From British crime, there are the aristocratic police chief, his plucky, intelligent wife, and the plodding but capable sergeant.
From the world of graphic novels comes a nod to Alan Moore's Watchmen. From noir comes the cop involved with a stripper. From the art-world thriller comes the hint that a stolen painting could contain a secret code. For good measure, real life gets a supporting role, with seeming invocations of Northern Ireland's troubles.
That's a lot of allusion for forty-two pages, and if the victims, suspects and antagonists did not include trolls, dwarfs and vampires, it might seem a bit much. But it's good fun so far, and as I read, I'm sure I'll think about why and how fantasy is a good vehicle for exploring issues that might otherwise make for heavier going. For now, though, I'll throw it over to you. What freedoms does fantasy grant a writer?
© Peter Rozovsky 2009