What is Agents of MORTAL: Deicide?
What happens when all the myths, legends, and things that go bump in the night come out to the world as real? Well, the world does as it always does: It rejected them.
Welcome to Avalantis, Alaska, the world’s first supercity with over fifty million myth and mundane citizens and home of those rejected by society. Although due to pesky things like murder end explosions, there are a few fewer citizens. When the former Greek god Hermes dies, three unusual cops from the Avalantis PD are recruited into a secret organization known as MORTAL, who has apparently been watching the Myths for longer than mankind realizes.
Their mission is to find and apprehend the mysterious figure known as “The Laughing Man”, the one responsible for a recent string of deaths. These three new recruits will have to use all their skill, strength, and wits to find and defeat the “The Laughing Man”. That is, if they don’t kill each other first.
DEICIDE (Agents of MORTAL) by M.K. Gibson is the latest offering from an author that has done a lot of books that I’ve enjoyed. I’ve read his TECHNOMANCER, VILLAINS RULE, THE CAPE IS A LIE, and SHE DREAMS OF FIRE novels. Gibson’s book are heavy on the humor, irony, and cynicism with his protagonists tending to be somewhat sardonic heroes in the Harry Dresden mold. This may be my favorite of them, though, which is saying something since the Technomancer books are “What if the Dresden Files were cyberpunk?”
The premise is that the “myths” have come out: gods, goblins, vampires, and more. Unfortunately, this does not result in a renewal of their worship but all of them being rejected by society. The town of Avalantis, Alaska is reserved for them and becomes a city with millions of people in it. Arguably, it’s a nation as opposed to a city and the only reason the city isn’t larger is that space/time gets wonky around it. The size of the Avalantis police force doesn’t really reflect this but my impression is that they’re not actually expected to be able to police the gods, goddesses, and fairies they do. It’s sort of like Twin Peaks having only a handful of cops despite having fifty thousand residents, except more so.
The story follows the recruitment of a up and coming police officer named Jesse into an elite branch of the Avalantis police department called MORTAL. Jesse is a wee bit bitter because despite devoting herself to the APD, she was almost murdered by her partner. It turns out being an overachiever and scrupulously honest cop in a corrupt supernatural reservation doesn’t win you any friends.
However, Jesse’s devotion to the law is just what needed when a politically sensitive case drops itself on MORTAL’s desk: the death of the Greek god Hermes. Apparently, he overdosed on a drug that briefly restores divine power and exploded on a bunch of cops. Who gave him the drug, why, and how much more do they have of it? It’s a fascinating combination of a very street-level story with an epic mystical one.
I was a big fan of supporting character Cassandra Cross, who is a woman that ticks off Jesse in every single way. Whereas Jesse has devoted herself to being meticulous, efficient, conservative, and uptight, Cross is well-liked and laid back. There’s also the fact that Cross doesn’t mind being openly sexual and this plays into a lot of Jesse’s internalized misogyny. Jesse has sacrificed everything to be the top cop she thinks herself to be and is annoyed that Cassandra is seemingly able to be one without having sacrificed a life.
MK Gibson is surprisingly good at mixing dark concepts with gut-busting humor and this is another interesting example of doing so. The gods have been stripped form their fairy holds and kingdoms by the US military before being stuck in the middle of nowhere. They’re angry, annoyed, and have every right to be. However, they’re coping with it and our protagonists have the job of keeping the peace despite not having the power or any real authority to do so. They also don’t even seem to realize, or are willfully blind to, how much of a powder keg the city actually is.
This is not a particularly serious work but is very humorous with barista gods, party girl goddesses, and even a high priest of Cthulhu from Kentucky. One that I’m pretty sure is a reference to me but that only partly influenced my review (*zing*). I was a bit uncomfortable with the fact people from real religious groups (Buddha, Kali) had their figures under “myths” but M.K. Gibson books have about as reverence for anything as South Park. He’s also an equal opportunity offender to other traditional Western religions so there’s that (you’ll see). It’s basically Brooklyn 99 with gods, magic, and fairies.
The audiobook version of the book is narrated by the dual team of Jeffrey Kafer and Heather Costa (now Heather Kafer), which is an excellent combination of voices. Both are professional and manage to convey the blindingly weird combination of characters present. Jeffrey Kafer also has the excellent deadpan comic timing needed to make the story work. He plays off his then future wife extremely well.
In conclusion, I got a lot of enjoyment out of this book. I think everyone who enjoyed his other books will enjoy this work as well. This is the perfect afternoon comfort food and if you like your stories crass, fun, and with a surprising amount of heart then you will enjoy this. This is a funny, zany, first book in a series that people who don’t take their urban fantasy too seriously will greatly enjoy.