Written by Paul D Brazill — Drunk on the Moon, the first story in this collection was written by Paul D Brazill for Dark Valentine magazine and he liked the characters so much he invited other writers to contribute their Roman Dalton stories to a later anthology entitled Drunk on the Moon. A second collection followed, Drunk on the Moon 2. Now, Roman Dalton – Werewolf PI collects together all the author’s Roman Dalton stories to date which have appeared both in his previous anthologies and elsewhere. There are no new stories in this one.
So, who is Roman Dalton? Well he is many things. Dalton is an ex-cop and a werewolf to begin with – for three nights of the lunar month, at least. An alcoholic? Possibly, he is frequently found in Duffy’s Bar, nursing a shot of Dark Valentine whisky and a hangover. He’s a music lover certainly, enjoying torch songs and the blues, but definitely not Genesis (read the story Black Moon Rising to find out why). Is he a knight errant, stalking the mean streets of the city righting wrongs and making sure justice is served? Just barely, so long as your idea of justice is seeing the bad guys ripped to shreds, chewed up and spat out.
He makes his living in The City, helping his friend Duffy and trying not to antagonise his old colleague Detective Ivan Walker. In fact Walker knows just how Dalton tends to resolve his cases and is often happy to turn a blind eye. Two of the stories – Bad Moon Rising and Before the Moon Falls – delve into the characters’ back stories and flesh out their relationships.
The City itself is an urban hell, full of junkies, prostitutes, and criminals, and ravaged by two competing crime bosses. Count Otto Rhino is outwardly a respected business man and runs the Frog Boys, an army of almost identical skinheads who can be pacified or put into a murderous rage by the singer and femme fatale, Daria. Rhino’s enemy is Ton Ton Phillipe, a Haitian gangster and owner of the Pink Pussy nightclub. It’s rumoured that he uses zombies as henchmen.
Over six stories Dalton, Duffy and Walker try to keep these mean streets safe, well as safe as The City can get, battling back a seemingly never ending tide of evil, sometimes human, sometimes paranormal. Frankly the trio are less interested in the nuances of private detection, or weighing in the balance the needs of justice, than they are in waiting for the full moon and letting Dalton’s lupine half kill everything in his path. Zombies, drug dealers, Bible-quoting hit-men – all are dispatched with glee and the hope their corpses won’t cause Dalton any indigestion the next day.
With werewolves, zombies and more, there seems to be little to interest crime fiction lovers, but Brazill knows PI territory like the back of his hand and delivers an impressively stylised, hyper-real version that is chock full of atmosphere and is as entertaining as hell. Femme fatales, rain-soaked neon-lit streets, alcohol and cigarettes, regrets and dashed hopes – they’re all present. These stories may not be for purists, and I don’t think Brazill wrote them for purists, but they are definitely worth a try for everyone else.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars