British Fiction Focus

Monkeys Drinking Margaritas: Revealing Poison City by Paul Crilley

It’s not looking good for the world in Poison City by Paul Crilley, “the first book in a South African crime series that sees investigator Gideon Tau pitted against the forces of darkness with nothing but a boozy dog and a magic wand made out of John Dee’s shin to help him.”

That’s… not a lot. But if anyone can make it work, it’s the man who conceptualised The X-Files: Conspiracy, the surprisingly solid comic book crossover which saw Mulder and Scully—and the Lone Gunmen, lest we forget—come into contact with Transformers, Ghostbusters, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Crow.

Paul Crilley is also the author of a Hardy Boys novel. I couldn’t not add that.

On the other hand, Poison City, out this August from Hodder, is an entirely original work of fiction, and it looks like it’ll split the difference between John Connolly’s noirish Charlie Parker narratives and the madcap dark fantasy of Charlie Human’s books:

The name’s Gideon Tau, but everyone just calls me London. I work for the Delphic Division, the occult investigative unit of the South African Police Service. My life revolves around two things: finding out who killed my daughter and imagining what I’m going to do to the bastard when I catch him.

I have two friends. The first is my boss, Armitage, a fifty-something DCI from Yorkshire who looks more like someone’s mother than a cop. Don’t let that fool you. The second is the dog, my magical spirit guide. He talks, he watches TV all day, and he’s a mean drunk.

Life is pretty routine—I solve crimes, I search for my daughter’s killer. Wash, rinse, repeat. Until the day I’m called out to the murder of a ramanga—a low-key vampire—basically, the tabloid journalist of the vampire world. It looks like an open and shut case. There’s even CCTV footage of the killer.

Except… the face on the CCTV footage? It’s the face of the man who killed my daughter. I’m about to face a tough choice. Catch her killer or save the world? I can’t do both.

So… how do you encapsulate all that on a cover?

I dare say you don’t. Instead, you enlist “the fabulous” David Foldvari to do an adorable drawing of a dog next to the bottle of sherry it DEFINITELY ISN’T DRINKING:


As Digital Marketing Executive and failed vampire slayer Fleur Clarke put it, Poison City is “more fun than a barrel of monkeys drinking margaritas”—and that? That sounds like a fine time to me, folks!

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.


Back to the top of the page

1 Comment

This post is closed for comments.

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.