All the Gil “The Arm” Hamilton stories collected in one volume with a previously unpublished story. These are good SciFi murder mysteries set in the Known Space universe. It just goes to show that Niven has a devious mind. As he says himself, SciFi murder stories are tricky since the reader must know all the “rules” of the environment in order to have a shot at solving the mystery himself.
Note: Most of the stories were previously published in “The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton”.
Harry Dresden is a private investigator of sorts. He is actually a wizard living in modern Chicago. In this novel, a mysterious woman hires him to find her husband. At the same time, in his capacity as police consultant on “unusual” cases, he is called in to assist in investigating a mysterious murder and soon finds himself implicated. To make matters worse, the White Council, a governing body of sorts for wizards, thinks he is guilty of crimes against the laws of magic.
The novel reads like a noir detective story, down to the lack of funds and burning of bridges with the police. The wizard and magic aspect makes for an interesting wrinkle. Unfortunately, however, it does not make the book interesting enough. Dresden is a interesting character and well crafted, but after a while the book became a bit predictable. The whole thing is too deeply steeped in noir thriller cliché. Shame really, as the whole thing is based on a cool concept.