What I'm reading: The Felix Renn books by Ian Rogers
At first read, Felix Renn is a familiar character: a wisecracking private investigator who has a troubled relationship with the authorities and who’s caught up in supernatural shenanigans in a noirish world. He’s a character that’s walked the pages of many other tales. But throughout Ian Rogers’ three chapbooks — Temporary Monsters, The Ash Angels and Black-Eyed Kids — Renn establishes himself as different from your usual, run-of-the-page private dick. For instance, he likes to name drop David Mamet and Blade Runner. And his taste in scotch is Canadian — you probably didn’t even know there is Canadian scotch, did you?
Rogers’ tales are different too. Very different. They’re mysteries where nothing is quite as it seems, and they’ll keep you wondering what’s going on until the last word. They’re also eerie enough to make even the most jaded reader get up and check the locks once or twice while reading them. They feature Renn trying to solve various mysteries involving The Black Lands, a parallel dimension that intersects ours and is home to all sorts of nasty creatures. There’s a touch of Lovecraft here, as Renn encounters situations and weird entities he can’t really beat by force, and he must use his wits not only to solve the case but also to survive.
Rogers has a nice style – hitting just enough notes with Renn to give him his own voice without going over the top into caricature, as too many other writers do. And Rogers is a hell of a plotter – good luck trying to figure out these stories before you reach their surprising endings.
Rogers has created an intriguing world in a relatively small body of work so far, and he’s continuing to flesh it out with each instalment – offering plenty of surprises along the way. I could go into more detail here, but really, you should just buy the whole series, pour yourself a scotch — Glen Breton — and sit down for a good read by the fire. Just remember to lock the doors.
Also, congrats to Burning Effigy for putting out some damned fine looking books. This is definitely a press to watch and support.