Working Stiff

Working Stiff: The Cases of Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.

by Kevin J. Anderson

Working Stiff: The Cases of Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. is an anthology of all of Kevin J. Anderson Dan Shamble short stories. As a fan of the series, I’ve been reading the short stories when I can, but I’ve missed a few as some of them have been released exclusively in other short story anthologies. Now that they’ve all been collected together into one book, fans can rejoice in getting those missing stories. After all, each one is yet another adventure with zombie detective Dan Shamble and his colorful cohorts as they crack some entertaining cases.

There are seven stories in this anthology:

  • Stakeout at the Vampire Circus
  • Road Kill
  • Naughty & Nice
  • Locked Room
  • The Writing on the Wall
  • Role Model
  • Beware of Dog

Some of the short stories are better than others, but they’re all enjoyable. “Stakeout at the Vampire Circus” features a hunt for a stolen deck of cards at the local circus, interactions with the side acts, and the usual bit of humor and puns. “Road Kill” amps things up with an even better story involving a gangster family with an illicit blood market operation and a vampire witness in protective custody. “Naughty & Nice” brings a change of pace with a Christmas theme story involving Santa Claus and elf elvis competitor who wants to bring toys to all the kids regardless of whether they’re naughty or nice. With some mystery, action and suspense, it’s a good one.

“The Locked Room” is a Shamble and Sheyenne team up story as they work on a case for Esther the harpy waitress. She’s commissioned a new mausoleum built by Percy the Minotaur, Sr. and she wants to make sure it’s escape proof. Who better than a zombie and ghost? “The Writing on the Wall” takes a shot at Elvira and zombies scrawling graffiti all over town. In “Beware of Dog”, we finally get to see Hairy Harry, a werewolf version of Clint Eastwood’s famous Dirty Harry. Hairy Harry has lost his pet hellhound and it’s up to Dan Shamble to find it before it tears up the town. Along the way, he runs into Coupe De Ville (think Cruella de Vil from The Hundred and One Dalmatians) and GETA = Gremlins for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Like the rest, it’s a lot of fun.

However, the best of the bunch is “Role Model”. I have to admit, this is primarily due to my love of Star Wars and the fact that the 501st Legion plays such a prominent role in this story. It all take place at convention called CosplayCon. Dan Shamble and his cop buddy McGoo decide to check the con out and wide up in the middle of a murder: some stabs a vampire stormtrooper in the heart with a wooden stake. To make matter worse, the only witness is a Klingon named Ach-gLokh Heqht. There’s skirmishes with the Klingons and 501st Legion, cameos by Vader, Boba Fett, Doctor Who and Firefly cosplayers and some funny redshirt jokes. If you’re a sci-fi fan and have been to a convention or two, this one will be right up your alley.

At the end of the day, Working Stiff is a great collection of humorous mystery stories starring a wide selection of unnatural characters. Each of them stars a zombie detective as he goes around a town full of monsters which turn ordinary cases into bizarre escapades. Throughout each story is a nice mix of action and mystery with lots of humor and jokes, some better than others, but all of them setting the mood for the stories. If you’re a fan of the series, this is a must read anthology. For those new to the series, it’s a great way to get introduced to the characters and the setting. From there, if you like what you read, you’ll find a whole lot more waiting for you with the full length novels.

I give Working Stiff a five out of five metal bikinis for collecting all of the Dan Shamble short stories together in one convenient book. It’s a lot of fun all packed into one place and a great way to spend a couple evenings.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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