Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Book Impressions: The Longest Con

Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 19, 2016

thelongestconI recently finished reading Michaelbrent Collings’ newest novel, The Longest Con. Collings is best-selling indie horror novelist, though he has written plenty outside of the genre he’s famous for. Several weeks ago I read Apparition, which was creepy as hell, especially if you are a parent. The Longest Con is not horror. Broadly, it would be Urban Fantasy / Comedy, with a serious dose of Murder Mystery on the side.

So here’s the thing: The story takes place in the middle of a big Science Fiction / Fantasy fan convention. If you’ve been to one, you know exactly the thing. Apparently, many monsters of the underworld are as geeky as we humans are, so they like to attend, too. They cosplay as humans. Or as humans cosplaying as something else. There are big peace accords in place at these cons to prevent the usual violence that can occur when monsters and humans meet. A powerful cabal of human wizards called the Dead Ones have appointed monster-hunting humans called Wardens to enforce the peace. But now the murder of a high-ranking werewolf threatens to bring all-out war between the monsters, with humans caught in the deadly crossfire. It’s up to one warden to discover the killer and bring them to justice without disrupting the very profitable convention.

If you are a fan certain authors who are regulars at several of these conventions, it gets better. Many of the characters in the book are real-life authors and friends who regularly attend several of these conventions… showing their “secret lives” as monsters, monster-hunters, innocent bystanders, and so forth. Michaelbrent Collings is the main character… author by day, Warden by whenever the Dead Ones decree. Larry Correia, Dave “DJ” Butler, Kevin J Anderson, Orson Scott Card, and Mercedes Yardley all play significant roles in the story, as do Michaelbrent’s parents and a few other friends and associates.

The characters are well-defined in the book, so you don’t need to know them to enjoy the story. But, if you do… they are great inside jokes. If you haven’t heard Larry Correia’s pro-gun rants, is it just as hysterical when his character in the book keeps an impossible number of high-powered weapons stored TARDIS-like inside his jacket? If you don’t know how friendly and nice Kevin J Anderson is in real life, will you laugh at much at the creepy and ruthless Dead One wizard he plays in the story? And what happens to poor Dave Butler… Fortunately, most of the humor and characterization work just fine if you have no idea that these characters have real-world counterparts. You’ll miss a few in-jokes (I’m pretty sure I missed a few myself), but it’s still fun and funny.

The setting and story is just nuts. In a good way. Imagine trying to figure out the real monsters from the humans in a setting like Comic Con. The action stays fast, the narrative stays humorous, and the monsters – at least the major ones – still manage to feel threatening in spite of the comedic tone.

Collings has built a really interesting world (and underworld!) with a lot going on in it, even if you only catch glimpses of it during the story. I want more. I hope this proves to be the first book of a series. I’d say that if you are a fan of the Harry Dresden or Monster Hunter International series and would like to read something in the same genre with a bit more of a humorous take, definitely pick this book up!

And if there is another book in the series, I would totally love it if Jim Butcher turned up to be some kind of super-powered Wuxia type. Michaelbrent, Jim, if you happen to read this, pretty please make this happen… 😉


Filed Under: Books, Impressions - Comments: Read the First Comment

  • Noumenon72 said,

    It’s like the inverse of a roman a clef.