JUDGE DEE STORIES by Lavie Tidhar โ€” ๐ŸŽƒ

Iโ€™m a big fan of Red Nose Studio. They often work with Tor Books, producing quirky little masterpieces of paper and wood and string to grace the covers of the publishing houseโ€™s offerings. But their covers for this set of vampiric murder mysteries by author Lavie Tidhar is on another level. The artwork is what initially drew me in. The murder mystery angle of the stories is what hooked me. This should surprise no one whoโ€™s followed my feed this summer. It is my current favorite genre. Vampires are my favorite monsters. It was a no brainer.

๐˜๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜บ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜จ๐˜ฉ๐˜ต, ๐˜ฃ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ท๐˜ฆ ๐˜ณ๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด โ€” ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜จ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ค ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ค๐˜ณ๐˜บ๐˜ฑ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ค ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜บ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ.  ๐˜‘๐˜ถ๐˜ฅ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ ๐˜‹๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ข ๐˜ท๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฉ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ท๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ณ๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด. ๐˜‘๐˜ถ๐˜ฅ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ ๐˜‹๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ฆ๐˜น๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ต๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฆ๐˜ด.

So I was a little disappointed to find that the mysteries were, unfortunately, mostly trivial and barely mysterious. But I very much got the sense that Tidhar wasnโ€™t aiming to write showy whodunnits as much as he just wanted to have fun with the tropes and conventions of vampire stories โ€” and he very clearly does. (My favorite gag: each and every single vampire prefacing the word โ€œwineโ€ with dramatic ellipses.) 

These stories read very much like experiments in style, eschewing the often august, Gothic sensibilities associated with the elegant ghouls in favor of clever subversions and playful, outrageous scenarios. Which is totally fine โ€” just not exactly what I expected. 

Still, these stories are very much fun, and I particularly recommend it to fans of ๐˜ž๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ž๐˜ฆ ๐˜‹๐˜ฐ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜š๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ๐˜ด, as Jonathan, Judge Deeโ€™s milquetoast human companion, reads like a cross between Guillermo, that showโ€™s similarly long-suffering familiar, and Morty, the pushover from, you know, that other show. The titular character himself reads like an aloof Benedict Cumberbatch. Like I said: fun. You can read all three stories that have been released on Tor Bookโ€™s website. My favorite is โ€œJudge Dee and the Poisoner of Montmartre,โ€ mostly due to the brazen ludicrousness of its plot. (These stories have excellent grandiloquent titles, which I appreciate, naturally.)

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