Crag Banyon Saddled with Superhero Woes in Flying Blind

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Flying Blind by James Mullaney, a Crag Banyon Mystery

Crag Banyon is a private investigator cut from the same cloth as Sam Spade and Mickey Spillane. Unfortunately, his world is a Terry Pratchett-like mishmash of Christmas elves, underworld demons, anthropomorphic personifications of ideals -- and superheroes. If it's a science fiction trope, it's just another client to Banyon.

In FLYING BLIND, the latest installment of the Crag Banyon Mystery series from James Mullaney, Banyon has to put aside his hobby -- drinking -- to take on two cases: tailing a husband whose rich, smoldering wife suspects of cheating, and sleuthing out the identity of a super-villain who has taken it into his head to be the arch-enemy of the latest cape-and-tights wearing flying super do-gooder, Minus. (Actually, the identity isn't the issue -- it's Doctor Cohen -- but do you know how many Doctor Cohen's there are in the city? And that's just assuming all the MDs!)

With a saucy, spicy, Spanglish ex-girlfriend tagging along and haranguing him with broken Spanish and ludicrous heels, Banyon saves the city repeatedly (letting the inept Minus take the credit, because it's more believable that way) while chasing down the clues. And as he earns the attention of the evil Doctor Cohen, he must also contend with all the bicycle messengers that Death (with a capital D) keeps leaving in his path. What's it all mean? You'll have to read it to find out.

Mullaney's Crag Banyon Mysteries are always fun to dig into. It's the absurdly extreme version of WHO CENSORED ROGER RABBIT? (Yes, I know the title of the movie, but this is a book review, so I'm referencing the source material instead.) While I've greatly enjoyed the past adventures, and even found much humor in this one, I felt at times that Mullaney was trying too hard in several places to create the most tortuously cynical sentence in all noir fiction. Banyon is nothing if not an erudite man, and he could stand to be a little more terse in his biting barbs lest the reader get lost in a sea of commas. Still, it's worth the reading (and the sometimes necessary re-reading) to fully appreciate the plight of the only sane man in an insane world.

3.5 / 5.0