How did I get it: Through inter-library loan. Which I would only suggest if you, like me, cannot finish ebooks and need printed copies. Otherwise this book is pretty fast and pretty inexpensive.
Why did I read it: I have a weakness and a love for all things Lovecraft-inspired. I also am a die-hard fan of detectives dealing with supernatural elements so I couldn’t resist this book or its sequel when I finally located a library outside of my state that had them. (This book will also count towards my 2012 Horror/Thriller Reading Challenge.)
Derek Adams is a Glasgow PI with plenty of time on his hands. Until the Bogart Case walks in.
A priceless family heirloom has been stolen and everyone in town is looking for it. The stars are right once more, and an ancient evil has been awakened from its dreaming sleep.
It was supposed to be an easy case, fast money. But pretty soon Derek is up to his armpits in bodies, femme fatales and tentacles.
The city’s dark side has him. And it doesn’t want to let the Midnight Eye go.
Review: The Amulet has a very compelling main character with a very authentic, engaging voice. Derek Adams is a fairly normal man confronted with fairly odd situations. His detective agency has been set up to stave off despair as well as his sense of helplessness and futility when confronted with his past. Needless to say, this makes him perfect for a Lovecraft-ish tale, but unlike many of Lovecraft’s “heroes,” Derek has more of a spine. The setting of the book is also really fascinating not only because it is set in Glasglow but because Meikle has a real way with dialogue and detail.
In terms of atmosphere and plot, I think the mystery and horror elements were well done. I really, really liked the backstory behind the amulet and the creepy Elder God who wielded it. At the same time, I felt a certain loss of momentum as the story was moving towards its final confrontation. Maybe it was Derek being mostly normal and not equipped with his own high-powered abilities that made it fairly jarring to suddenly have him working with two people who were. Maybe I was a bit too concerned about what had happened to Doug at that point, to care about learning much about Dunlop or his lovely wife. I definitely didn’t care much about about their well-being. I sincerely appreciate Mielke providing Derek with secondary characters who know what they’re doing if only to keep Derek from meeting a grisly end… But I can’t help thinking I would have rather read about Derek finding a way to take out a cult and its monster all on his own.
Aside from that somewhat minor complaint, The Amulet is a book that I could honestly kick myself for not reading sooner, and one that I really enjoyed. Derek was a really perfect noir PI who cared about his friends and not too much about himself. He’s a character that mattered to me from beginning to end and one I definitely was relieved to find more books for. I liked that he wasn’t as tough as he wanted to be. I liked most of the people he met, particularly Jimmy and Doug, as well as Derek’s take on them. I liked all the little details Mielke added, I loved the Derek’s sense of humor, and am still quite amused by the Gilbert & Sullivan references.
In conclusion, a really good read and introduction to a very cool character. I dug the mystery, the horror, and the slight urban fantasy vibe reminiscent of Simon R. Green’s Tales from the Nightside. And I have a feeling I will be acquiring more William Meikle books in the near future. In the mean time, I would definitely recommend The Amulet to readers who pine for Lovecraft meets Chandler storylines, or to readers who simply wish their urban fantasy-tinged fiction took more risks.
How I would rate it: 4 out of 5 stars.