Doubtless you will remember last year, James Hutchings produced his collection of short stories and poetry entitled “The New Death and Others”. I had the privilege of reviewing it and was very pleased with what I found therein. I mentioned that I’d quite like to see him tackle longer formats and now he’s done just that, albeit in serial style with The Case of the Syphilitic Sister.
The tone of the first chapter (all that’s available right now) could best be summed up by imagining Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett teaming up to write Watchmen. If that give you a fanboy squee, then you’re not alone; I really got into the crime-fighting superhero tone of this work, although it feels closer to the Minutemen than the later Watchmen themselves. There’s even Hutchings’ equivalent of the Keene Act and some sly metafictional asides to the films of the era.
Hutchings handles the pace well and his prose is confident and assured, although it lacks the hardboiled and cynical edge that marked out Chandler and Hammett. It’s only the first chapter so it may develop as we go. His characters, even at this early stage, are starting to become real, the dichotomy between their public and private personae being one of the themes of the chapter.
There’s a smattering of NSFW language, as might be expected in a work of this genre and after the first scene break, there’s a slightly confusing shift of POV within a paragraph, which might have been better handled by splitting it into two, one for Catherine, one for the Green Dragon.
In conclusion, a solid start for this serial and one that I’m hoping to see developed in further chapters. It can be found here.
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