Hard Boiled and Hard to Hate. The City of Smoke and Mirrors by @NickPiers

The City of Smoke and Mirrors (Armadillo Mystery)
Nick C. Piers
Fiction Noir
256 pp

Mutant detective five foot armadillo private dick with a fedora. Check. Hardboiled fiction. Check. Mafioso and vigilantism. Check. It’s at this point you’ve either decided you’re intrigued or not. I’m hoping for the former.

Dilbert (his friends call him Dill) Pinkerton is our protagonist mutant private dick tasked with recovering a pearl necklace. The task seems simple enough until he has to go to Nevermore Bay; home of the Buzzardman and the (ugh) Buzzardmobile. With me so far? Good. Because there are quite a few nods to the comics and industry itself as well as to wrestling and some other acknowledgements.  The Joker reference was very subtle (and if it wasn’t a Joker reference, then I totally over read into it :p). And then there’s Don Komodo and his goons chasing after Dill from a previously botched case.

Told in first person from Dill’s POV in this hard boiled fiction, we’re introduced to a variety of characters. Even the dog.  The non mutant one.  The characters are all over the top and what you would expect given the genre; all memorable in one form or another. No-one sticks out as a love to hate or a love to love character but it is fun to read about them.

The overall tone, setting, and atmosphere was well done, however,  “City of Smoke…” is not without its errors.  There were some minor typos and syntax errors as well as a one HUGE consistency flaw towards the end regarding the Buzzardmobile, but that’s neither here nor there. With or without the (ugh) Buzzardmobile, it’s an enjoyable ride.

Edited to remove self published comment per author correction.


  • Wow, thank you very much for the review. I wasn’t expecting this, but it was a great way to wake up this morning.

    Out of curiosity, what was the consistency flaw regarding the Buzzardmobile? I have no doubt there are typos and errors as I’m told of some after the book came out. Need to work on those editing skills, I guess.

    • 1) Thank you for the correction re: publishing
      2) You can thank Liz C./Syrusb via FB for bringing this book to my attention when it was published. I would have read it sooner but I had a queue of books to read! I will say that it was a nice way to finish 2013 with “City of Smoke…” as my last book read of 2013
      3) As for the Buzzardmobile, sometimes it was preceded with the (ugh) and other times it was not. Maybe saying, “HUGE” is overstated but it just bothered me with given Dil’s view of the entire Buzzard role in the city.

      • I’ll be sure to send Liz a fruit basket or something as thanks. Your review is getting retweeted like crazy, so suddenly Dill’s getting a bit more attention. Thank again for that.

        For the (ugh) Buzzardmobile thing, I originally wrote it where Dill would say it every single time he said the name Buzzardmobiile. One of my editor friends just put a bit “NO” after the first couples of times, saying it got annoying after awhile, which I agreed.

  • One minor correction from the review: the book is not self-published, but through Pro Se Productions. They’re a small, print-on-demand publisher.

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