The ever so amazing Gini Koch must give psychotherapists giggles of delight with the wild assortment of tales she writes, all stemming from different universes and with different voices all coming out of her head. One such tale is a story from what she dubs “The Necropolis Enforcement Files” and it’s a story titled The Night Beat.
In this world monsters and humans co-exist, albeit quietly and secretly for the most part. The world of monsters and humans exist separately, but in parallel to each other, and in some places they can sort of intersect. Here we are introduced to a human city named Prosaic City. Humans live there and go about their regular lives all the while blissfully unaware that in another dimension lies Necropolis City, a place where Vampires, Werewolves, Mummies, Zombies, and every other type of ghoulish creature you can dream of exist. This is not just a world of the undead. It’s a world of the unliving, with humans who have died through supernatural means and in many cases brought over to exist in this new world of other monstrous, but mostly benevolent, beings. It is here we meet Victoria, or Vic for short. She’s a well-respected police officer/werewolf who works for the Necropolis Enforcement as well as an “undercover” police officer for Prosaic City Police. This means that while operating for the Prosaic City Police she does so in her human form all the while operating in secret for Necropolis Enforcement. Her job is to investigate anything that would seem slightly off. Think of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully fromX-Files if they were actually the police. While investigating a rather unusual situation in some dark alley she, and her partner Jack Wagner (a human) come across something that can only be thought of as a violent version of The Blob, wrecking all types of havoc. As they start to investigate how this slime monster came to be there a greater mystery begins to unfold, which takes their investigations to all sorts of interesting locations operating in Prosaic City, including The Pleasure Palace that is operated by a snake-demon named Ishtrallum, a Pawn Shop that is run by THE Cotton Mather (most infamously known for his role in the Salem Witch Trials), who also happens to be one of the undead, and a Salvation Center operated by an angel named Jude (his true historical name is not outright stated, but is heavily implied). Here our Scooby Gang, which now includes a zombie named Freddy and Sexy Cindy, a streetwalker turned succubus (they were both killed by the slime monster early in the book, and then “brought over” to the world of the unliving), start to realize that the danger to both Necropolis and Prosaic City is much greater than they had ever imagined, which would literally have apocalyptic ramifications.
When you read one of Gini’s books you can only marvel at the amount of detail that goes into the universe of the story that she has written. She has produced several “franchise” stories, most notably her “Alien/Katherine ‘Kitty’ Katt Series,” and yet at no time do those stories, or this book, feel as if they’re in the same universe. Clearly they’re not intended to be, but what is so amazing is the detail that she goes in to creating something so entirely different. It’s as if her brain is plugged in to the multiverse and is simply dictating stories from each of those universes. However there is so much more going on here. Her research into historical characters ranges from utterly incredible and thought provoking, to WTF moments! Utilizing Cotton Mather was a very clever twist, but there are other notable individuals in history who make some rather unusual, if not provocative, appearances in this story. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I shall not name who they are because a good portion of the fun in reading Night Beat is encountering those characters as they appear in just the right moments of the book. And then there is the religious aspect of this. For years scientists have grappled with divining the Grand Unification Theory in physics. Well if there was to be a Grand Religious Unification Theory, then Gini has provided it in this book! As a progressive Christian myself, I found myself reading some of this religious universe building and could not help but be both amused and amazed at what she was able to create. Not only did none of it come off as offensive to me (although I’m sure some of the more conservative religious bent might think otherwise), I actually came away thinking that much of it made a lot of sense! With content like this I could not help but wonder if her id is not actually plugged into something otherworldly.
While there appears to be plans for more novels from “The Necropolis Enforcement Files,” at this time we only have Night Beat to enjoy. Unlike her first Alien book, Touched By An Alien, we are thrown into the mix of this world as the story is told from Vic’s point of view. Both Vic and this universe are already well established, so we are to rely on elements of this universe to unfold as the narrative progresses, which is different from Touched By An Alien where we get to learn all things alien right alongside her chief character Kitty. For readers of Night Beat this might serve as a bit confusing, especially for those who are not fans of being thrown into a totally unfamiliar world right on the first page. However, that should not dissuade anyone from reading this book. Gini is something of a pop-culture maven, and while there aren’t THAT many pop-culture references in this book, the Easter Eggs she has placed throughout Night Beat regarding historical characters and events makes this book a truly fun read. I would lastly add that if Universal Pictures wants to continue with their “Dark Universe” franchise, then perhaps they should take a page out of this book. While Night Beat is not a true horror story (then again neither was Universal’s most recent attempt with The Mummy), many of the characters and mythical monstrous beings that appear here in some ways makes Night Beat the type of success where The Mummy failed. Simply put, this is yet another crowned jewel in the works and worlds of the always-amazing Gini Koch!
Night Beat gets 5 out of 5 totems!!!
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