In the middle of a crowded restaurant, a man is murdered. Three blasts from a shotgun and no one sees or hears anything. “One second everything is fine; next second there’s a dead guy messy on the floor with a shotgun next to him and blood spreading out and all the nice people freaking out and throwing up.”
Must have been magic.
Donovan Longfellow and his team from the “Investigations and Enforcement” department of The Foundation, a secret organization of magicians, are brought in to track down the murderous sorcerer and keep him from revealing the existence of magic to the world of civilians. Imagine Law and Order or CSI but, instead of using forensics, Steven Brust’s investigators combine good, old fashioned detective work with magical spells that can teleport them around the country, make witnesses tell the truth, or block bullets. How about Harry Potter meets Raymond Chandler?
Despite the magic, Good Guys tells a pretty traditional procedural mystery story. But the way Brust hints at backstories and secret histories suggesting a much larger world is what sets this book apart. Casual mentions of past cases make Donovan and his team believable. Nicknames for The Foundation’s departments seem real despite little explanation for where they came from. The Ranch, Upstairs, The 12th Floor, The Burrow, The Kiddie Pool. The Foundation’s professed underfunding also feels authentic. Plus, it gives our heroes justification for believing they’re the good guys despite some morally questionable actions.
If they were the bad guys, it’s safe to assume, they’d be making more than minimum wage.