Hugh Likes Fiction: Gluttony Bay

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Sin Du Jour: Gluttony Bay
Written by Matt Wallace
Published by Tor

The Skinny: Matt Wallace returns for the sixth installment of his Sin Du Jour series, and the penultimate volume is just as nasty, brutal, and short as you’d expect. And that’s why it’s great.

After building tension over the course of five novellas, Matt Wallace’s “Sin Du Jour” Series is reaching the end of its rope, and it’s been one hell of a climb. Focusing on the misadventures of a supernatural catering service, the series has had a solid thematic line of making deals with the devil. The first novel involved a celebratory dinner for a whole tribe of demons, in fact. And the consequences of those decisions are finally coming home to roost for Wallace’s huge cast of characters.
As the crew of Sin Du Jour’s relationship with government contact and string-puller Allensworth continues to sour, he reveals to them his most closely guarded secret: Gluttony Bay, a combination black site prison/five star dinning experience for his most discerning supernatural contacts. I’ll leave you to guess what’s on the menu, but Bronko, Lena and the rest will have to make a difficult choice, and hopefully live with the consequences.
We’re nearly at the end of Wallace’s masterfully crafted rollercoaster ride, and the tension is so thick you can cut it with the finest of chef’s knives. Wallace doesn’t pull any punches with this one, and he leaves us with more of a statement than a question. The supernatural catering company has always danced around the question of how do you serve monsters without becoming one. And the answer is, simply, that you don’t. He makes his characters face an impossible choice, and the writing is as juicy and delicious as a perfectly prepared steak.
SIn Du Jour book six, “Gluttony Bay” is available from amazon.com, or your preferred ebook retailer. If my previous six reviews haven’t swayed you, don’t sleep on this one.

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Hugh Likes Fiction: Rencor

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Rencor: Life in Grudge City
Written by Matt Wallace
Published by From Parts Unknown Publications

“Rencor: Life in Grudge City” is the Luchador Superhero Detective novella you didn’t know you needed in your life. The eponymous setting is a U.S/Mexico border town founded in the 1950’s as a sort of hometown for luchadores. But like all things, time moves on.
Ten years ago, Technico El Victor III and Rudo Mil Calavaras III fought their last, epic match in the ring at Coleseo Rencor. The climactic battle saw the defeated Calavaras banished from Rencor, a place where the rules of the ring and the rule of are one and the same, forever. It was the beginning of the end for Luchadores in Rencor.
Now, El Victor is scraping by in a world that doesn’t hold the enmascardos in the same esteem anymore, and Mil Calavaras works as a ‘reformed’ consultant to the FBI, successful but denied his home and revenge. But an unusual break-in at Museo Rencor will bring El Victor back to hero work, and Mil Calaveras back to his hometown. Will the former rivals solve the case, or kill each other first?
Rencor: Life in Grudge City is another fast-paced, inventive, and supremely entertaining novella from Matt Wallace. Steeped in the unique lore of the lucha libre and populated by his usual eccentric and elegantly sketched characters, the book draws in the reader and gives them everything they need, even if they’ve never heard of the likes of El Santo before. Wallace’s deep knowledge and abiding love of old-school wresting shines through in every page, and the work is elevated by it. His embrace of the super-heroic and mystical bits, in a graying world that is leaving such things behind makes for a not only entertaining read, but a moving one.
While Wallace’s action scenes are outstanding and for the most part easy to follow, I think a glossary for some of the more technical moves and terms would have been helpful. I was never really lost, but Wallace throws out a lot of wrestling terminology throughout the book. That’s honestly the only criticism I can say, although I will add that the novella ends on a hell of a cliffhanger. Hopefully Matt will return to Rencor soon.
Rencor: Life in Grudge City is available in print and ebook. You can buy it via Amazon, or order it from you local bookstore.

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Hugh Likes Fiction: Greedy Pigs

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Sin du Jour: Greedy Pigs
Written by Matt Wallace
Published by Tor


We’re on book five of Matt Wallace’s seven course Sin du Jour series, and if you aren’t onboard by now, I don’t know what to tell you. These novellas haven’t stopped kicking ass, and “Greedy Pigs” is no less great than the preceding four.
After being embroiled in supernatural politics and nearly taken over, Sin du Jour finds themselves catering the gala festivities as the new President of the supernatural community is installed. But something bad is coming, plans are being laid, and Lena’s best friend and fellow line chef Darren is in the center of them.
Everything that makes Wallace’s work great is still on display here. The characters are efficiently but deeply rendered, the plotting is tight, and the writing is just as wickedly sharp as ever. As things hit the fan, the humor is a bit less on display, although Wallace still finds places to sprinkle comic scenes in, such as a set of errands Lena and Bronko make early in the story that are by turns funny, charming, and bittersweet, with some uncomfortable revelations about pandas.
Greedy Pigs is the fifth part of Wallace’s seven part Sin du Jour series, which you really should be reading by now. Go read it in ebook or print, and be sure to find out more about it on Tor.com.

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Hugh Likes Fiction: Idle Ingredients

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Idle Ingredients (Sin du Jour Book 4)
Written by Matt Wallace
Published by Tor


Matt Wallace is back again with the fourth course of his ‘Sin du Jour’ novellas. Each bite-sized course of these epicurean Urban Fantasy series is an utter delight, and I’ve been looking forward to this one. As usual, Wallace doesn’t disappoint.
Still reeling from their last big job in Los Angeles, Sin du Jour line chef Lena Tarr goes on the lamb. Bronko and Nikki bring her back to the kitchen on the very reasonable assumption that the armies of Hell that are after them will kill her without the protection Sin du Jour provides. But there’s a new face at the catering company, ‘Government liaison’ Luciana Monrovio and Lena is immediately suspicious of the hold she seems to suddenly have over all of them, particularly the guys.
This novella is a bit more serious than the last three, but that’s not surprising after the major throw down at the end of “Pride’s Spell.” The thing I did like about this one is that it packs in a lot of character growth for characters we haven’t seen too much of before. Darren gets some nice page time, and really starts to come into his own, even as Lena is shown as more vulnerable than we’ve seen her in the past, and planning assistant Jett gets a cool arc too. Wallace’s strength is in keeping all of his plates spinning so flawlessly. Sin du Jour, as in his previous novella series, Slingers, has a huge cast of characters. Matt manages to breathe life into all of them, and progress their individual stories, in a breathtakingly short amount of pages. Each bite-sized book contains more character growth and personality than your average doorstop fantasy epic.
Sin du Jour book four, Idle Ingredients, is out now from Tor. You can purchase it from Amazon or wherever you get books.

Hugh Likes Fiction: Lustlocked

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Written by Matt Wallace
Published by Tor
The second novella in Wallace’s “Sin du Jour” series, Lustlocked delivers with more of the hijinks, magic, and profanity that are his stock in trade.
Having survived their first gig, newbies Lena and Darren are brought on as provisional chefs, just in time for the next big job.  Sin du Jour has been contracted for the wedding of wedding of the Goblin King’s son to a mortal woman, and it is going to be a party to remember.
But before you go picturing little green men in tuxes, Goblins are, in fact, the opposite.  The most beautiful of God’s creatures, they secretly rule the entertainment industry, and eat only the finest gold.  Their ruler is exactly who you think, tight pants and all.
When Sin du Jour’s resident crone meddles to encourage goblin society to be more accepting of their new princess, the results quickly get out of control.
In spite of the unfortunate timing of the books release, this is another rollicking, messy adventure, and fans of Envy of Angels will find plenty to love in this worthy sequel.  All of the colorful characters return, and are in the same over-the-top form.  We get a bit more character depth as they content with lust spirits, homicidal spells incarnated as Hanna-Barbera characters, and panicked starlets.  It is a skewering of Hollywood that only Matt Wallace could come up with, and it is well worth the time this short-course will take to devour.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this entry is that he focuses the action at the company headquarters and the wedding.  “Envy of Angels” split time between the chefs and the procurement team, and felt a little spread out.  This time, Ritter and company’s adventure is split off into a separate short story, “Small Wars,” which is included with the ebook.  It’s a poignant little tale, and serves as a nice counterpoint to the glitz and wackiness of the novella.
Lustlocked is another course of dark, hilarious epicurean urban fantasy.  I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next Sin du Jour entree in June.

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Hugh Likes Fiction: Envy of Angels

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Envy of Angels
Written by Matt Wallace
Published by Tor
What would you do for your dream job?  Two struggling line chefs are forced to grapple with that question when they are hired by Sin Du Jour, a very exclusive catering company with a most unusual clientele.
Sin Du Jour caters for demons.  And goblins, and a host of other supernatural creatures that the rest of the world thinks are myths.  But when Sin Du Jour is contracted to serve a post-treaty signing banquet for warring demon tribes, the menu might be more than they can stomach.
Filled with quirky characters, shocking twists, and clever high concepts, Matt Wallace’s Envy of Angels is a delightfully weird novella.  He has a wonderful talent of pulling out a new reveal just when you think the story has gone as far as it can.  It’s not an adventure so much as it is a magic show.  You keep turning the page less to see if the heroes will make it than to see what kind of three-headed fire-breathing rabbit Wallace will pull out of his hat next.
He mixes this with an ability to draw out sympathy for his characters in remarkably efficient language.  He can make you hate a character and then deliver a get-punch you never saw coming in the space of a single paragraph.  It makes for a fast read that is difficult to put down.
This brief and blustery novella might not be for everyone, however.  The short length and large cast means that as much as I was rooting for these characters, I didn’t get to know them quite as well as I’d have liked to.  We get one or two details, then the book barrels onward.  Much of the second act is also set away from the kitchen, which puts supposed main characters Lena and Darren out of the reader’s eye to follow another team of Sin Du Jour employees.  It still makes for an interesting read, but it isn’t a traditional narrative by any stretch.  The ending also feels a bit abrupt.
Even though it doesn’t quite fill the belly as much as a novel, Envy of Angels is a satisfying first course in Matt Wallace’s “Sin Du Jour” series.  Check it out in print or ebook!

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Hugh Likes Podcasts: Ditch Diggers

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Ditch Diggers

Hosted by Mur Lafferty and Matt F. Wallace


Ditch Diggers

“Ditch Diggers” is a different kind of writing podcast. Hosted by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace, with special guests from throughout the SF writing community, this is less a writing podcast and more a writing-adjacent business advice show.

The Campbell award-winning Lafferty is perhaps best known as the host of “I Should Be Writing,” an also excellent podcast featuring encouragement and practical advice for aspiring writers. This is the other show, where she gets more down to earth with business advice for writers who know how to put one word in front of the other. Co-host Matt Wallacer contributes his own expertise as a novelist and screenwriter. The podcast actually springs from a segment on ISBW called “Good Cop, Bad Cop,” in which the pair answered letters, with Mur offering encouragement, and Matt giving over the top criticism.

While they aren’t in character on this podcast, “Ditch Diggers” has the same energy as those old segments, and the banter between the two is a delight. They’ve also featured guest authors, including Kameron Hurley and Chuck Wendig, to talk about their career successes and failures.

While “Ditch Diggers” is geared towards writers looking for career advice, it is still an entertaining listen if you aren’t looking for an agent or an editor. It’s a peek behind the the curtain into the real world of how books get from manuscript to bookstore shelf, with a pair of wry, witty hosts who work well together. “Ditch Diggers” can be found at their website, via Mur Lafferty’s site, or in your favorite podcatcher. It’s all the fun of going to a writer’s convention, without the bar tab.