The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack


Urban Fantasy

Lucius Fogg

Lucius Fogg 1 Deadly Creatures by Dan Wickline

Dan Wickline’s urban fantasy series is built upon the Nero Wolfe model established by Rex Stout. Lucius Fogg is a master sorcerer—perhaps the greatest alive in post World War II New York City—but he has one significant restraint on his power. If he takes even one step outside of his home, he will die. To get around this difficulty, he employs private detective Jimmy Doyle to do his legwork for him as he investigates supernatural phenomenon that catch his interest.

Jimmy Doyle is a World War II vet who took a bullet to the head and spent three months in a coma. He only woke up because Fogg sent a magical pendant to him which a nurse hung around his neck. Now he has a metal plate in his head (more on this later) together with a strong sense of justice. He’s also got a lot of attitude that makes you wonder why he doesn’t get slugged more by the men he provokes.

The final piece of background that is critical to understanding this series is that most Americans do not believe in the supernatural even though quite a few of those creatures live among them.

The novel opens with a peculiar instance of a man following Doyle, wanting Lucius Fogg’s help, but panicking and running before Doyle can find out what he wants. He darts into the street and gets hit by a van seemingly closing the strange encounter. A few days later, women start to die in a peculiar fashion and a police detective who has reluctantly come to know that the supernatural is real, asks Fogg for his help. That mystery takes up half the novel and is thoroughly enjoyable, pulling all the early threads together. In resolving the case we get introduced to the supernatural world. But in closing the case, questions Fogg does not want to pursue get opened and Doyle’s sense of justice leads him to quit Fogg’s employ so he can pursue justice on his own.

This is where things get very interesting. We learn that the relative peace that New York City enjoys was built upon a compact by Fogg, the chief vampire and werewolf of New York, and a famous hunter who had been trying to kill off all the supernatural creatures in the city. This compact kept NYC from breaking out into total war at the price of Old Town (about thirty blocks of the city) being turned over to the supernaturals. New Yorkers believe this is an area of such tremendous crime that not even the police go there, but those in the know understand the truth. Now, the compact appears to be in violation as werewolves are being seen killing people outside of Old Town.

The resolution of this mystery is very exciting, but there are some problems with it which I’m going to discuss next. So be forewarned, SPOILERS are ahead.

The compact was made necessary by the tremendous immigration of supernaturals to New York City from elsewhere—especially Europe. All werewolves and vampires in the city came to Old Town when Fogg cast the spell that formed the compact—basically limiting those creatures (and their progeny) to Old Town. This ignores the fact that it is immigration which was helping to cause the problem and presumably would continue after the compact was made. New immigrants would not be bound by the compact but apparently this never occurs to anyone. It’s especially troubling that no one even considers this possibility when they start finding new werewolves operating in the city. This is a serious flaw in the plot.

It also appears that new vampires and werewolves have been creates since the compact but this would seem to be impossible under the terms of the compact. Maybe I’m incorrect about this, but it struck me as a significant inconsistency.

The next complaint may be unfair, but the reader is constantly reminded that Jimmy Doyle has a metal plate in his head. Unfortunately, the plate is forgotten when Jimmy gets infected with lycanthropy and transforms. I don’t know that this would cause problems, but it would seem that the plate would have to be moved around by transforming in and out of wolf form and this is never addressed.

These are small complaints but they bothered me as I first read and thought about the book. That didn’t stop me from rereading the novel, however. If you like a good mystery with some supernatural elements, you’ll enjoy this series.

Lucius Fogg 2 Malicious Intent by Dan Wickline 

The second book in this series has a lot to do with the mysterious past of the sorcerer, Lucius Fogg. It opens with the ghost of an angry sorceress who has been secretly living in Fogg’s house taking possession of Jimmy Doyle’s girlfriend and matters quickly go from bad to worse. Fogg’s old nemesis—Kieran Drake—the man who killed him 65 years before resulting in Fogg being trapped in his house—has returned to get his vengeance and in so doing expose the supernatural world to the mundane citizens of New York City. Old Town is exposed and Drake announces he’s running for mayor and suddenly (through magic?) is the most popular man in the city. Yet none of this makes sense to Fogg, who can’t believe that Drake would care about mundane power.

There’s a lot of pain in this book for Jimmy Doyle who learns that the stakes of being a sorcerer’s leg man (actually he discovers—much to his personal discomfort—that he’s Fogg’s apprentice) are even more serious than he ever dreamed. This suffering further humanizes Doyle and really adds power to the book. Doyle functions in a world where supernatural threats are common place and while his friends insist on helping him, they are not equipped to survive these perils, and the strain of putting them in danger is getting to Doyle.

Drake’s plot is probably the best part of the novel. When you finally figure out what he’s working toward, and how becoming mayor of NYC can help his decidedly supernatural plan succeed you’ll be shivering with horror and excitement. There’s an awful lot that’s great about this novel and if you like good mysteries in an urban fantasy setting, you’ll want to read it.

Lucius Fogg 3 Educated Corpses by Dan Wickline

Jimmy Doyle gets a call from his original mentor, a private investigator named Elias Chandler, asking for his help. Chandler and Doyle had a falling out years ago, but that doesn’t stop Doyle from running to meet him at the zoo. Unfortunately, when he gets there, Chandler is already dead and a gorilla—also supposedly dead—is on the rampage. And matters only get more bizarre from there.

In this third book in the series, Wickline pulls together many of the threads left dangling from the first two novels to produce an exciting and satisfying story, wrapped around an interesting mystery. The Compact between the vampires, werewolves, sorcerers and humans is fracturing after the events of the first and second novel. Doyle finds himself using magic he doesn’t remember learning. And now the dead are coming back to life—not as vampires—but through a disturbing mixture of magic and science. Doyle and Fogg have their hands full this time and I thoroughly enjoyed their adventure.

As a final note, I’d like to observe that it’s been three years since Educated Corpses was published. Mr. Wickline, when are we going to get book four?